Literary Agent to Re-Publish Author’s 2004 Novel

25 July 2014

From Publishers Weekly:

Literary agent Marly Rusoff is re-releasing, through her publishing imprint Maiden Lane Press, a debut novel by Jonathan Odell. Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League will be out on February 4, to coincide with the 102nd birthday of Rosa Parks.

The novel, originally titled The View from Delphi, was first published by Macadam/Cage in 2004 to strong reviews, but tepid sales. The Maiden Lane edition, Odell said, has been trimmed by 100 pages to “make it more succinct and more pertinent to what’s going on now.”

“So many things go wrong in publishing, and it has nothing to do with the author; I see it all the time,” Rusoff told PW. “There’s something special about a first novel, and this is a book that deserves better.” Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League will be released in trade paper and e-book, but hardcover editions will also be released for, Rusoff says, “libraries and book signings.” An initial print run has not yet been determined.

. . . .

Sales of The View from Delphi were, Odell recalls, somewhere between 7,000-10,000 copies. “I came in the wake of The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003),” he explained, referencing the timing of his book at Macadam/Cage, which had one of its biggest hits in Audrey Niffenegger’s novel. “There was nobody [at Macadam/Cage] to help me,” Odell continued. “A secretary was doing the marketing.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Unknown Authors Make A Living Self-Publishing

25 July 2014

From National Public Radio:

Five years ago, printing your own book was stigmatized and was seen as a mark of failure.

“But now,” says Dana Beth Weinberg a sociologist at Queens College who is studying the industry, “the self published authors walk into the room and they say, ‘I made a quarter of a million dollars last year, or a hundred thousand dollars, or made ten thousand dollars, and it is still more than what some of these authors are making with their very prestigious contracts.’”

Weinberg says there is still a strong financial case to be made for publishing books the old fashioned way, but there are now many well-known independent authors who have made a fortune self-publishing online.

One of those authors, Hugh Howey, recently published a report arguing that self-published writers earn more money overall from eBooks than authors who have been signed by the big five publishing houses. The report, which Howey created with an anonymous data researcher who goes by the name “Data Guy,” uses Amazon’s sales ranking and crowd-sourced sales data to estimate authors’ total earnings on eBooks.

The report has been attacked by critics who point out the figures don’t include cash paid to authors as part of a book advances. And they say Howey is underestimating the money earned from old fashioned print sales. He’s also been called a tool of Amazon in that company’s war against established publishing houses.

. . . .

One of those authors is Michael Bunker, who has a long beard, close-cropped hair and a wide brim hat, and describes himself as an “accidental Amish Sci-Fi writer.”

His latest book, Pennsylvania Omnibus, hit number 19 earlier this month on Amazon’s best seller list. And Bunker’s first book — about living off the grid — was an instant online success.

“It went to 29 on all of on the very first day,” Bunker said. “And I got messages from agents and publishers. And I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no clue what I was doing.”

The first agent who reached him offered a $5000 advance and a guaranteed publishing deal.

“I made more than that yesterday,” Bunker said.

Link to the rest at NPR and thanks to Jennifer for the tip.

Why I’ve switched to self-publishing

24 July 2014

From author Diana Kimpton via An Awfully Big Blog Adventure:

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I knew I already had two publishers eager to see my first novel for older readers. I knew that if I went with one of them, I’d be likely to get a good advance and good sales.

But I also knew that the world of publishing was changing fast. Self publishing was now a viable option – I’d already tried it with two backlist titles so I knew what was involved. And I also knew that There Must Be Horses was the best book I had ever written. Did I want to hand it over to someone else or did I want to stay in control?

In the end, I decided to do it my way, and I published There Must Be Horses myself in October 2012. The ebook came first, closely followed by a print-on-demand print version and a few months later by a short print run organised and distributed by Troubador because I’d discovered that I hated handling orders.

Almost two years on, I’m convinced I made the right decision. I probably would have sold more copies initially with a traditional publishing deal, but I make more per book so I don’t mind. Despite being self-published, the book has been reviewed in PONY magazine and The School Librarian, and it’s still selling steadily, often featuring in the best selling list for its genre. (It’s topped it once or twice.)

. . . .

Would I do it again? Now’s a good time to ask that as I’ve just had the latest in my Pony-Mad Princess series, published traditionally. On the plus side for the traditional route, the advance for Princess Ellie’s Perfect Plan was very welcome. I’ve enjoyed working with a very pleasant bunch of people and the final book looks good. On the minus side, I’ve had to give up the rights to my book for many years to come. I’ve missed the fun and satisfaction of self-publishing and, right now, I’m missing the instant access to sales figures that I get when I use Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace.

That’s why I’ve decided to stick with self-publishing for the foreseeable future.

Link to the rest at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure

Here’s a link to Diana Kimpton’s books


Should a First-Time Literary Novelist Self-Publish on Amazon?

23 July 2014

From The Huffington Post UK:

The Guardian reported recently on Amazon’s latest Author Earnings Survey, which suggests that self-published ebooks now account for 31% of the overall market, with self-published authors earning ‘nearly 40% of the ebook dollars’. This comes on the back of a longer piece in the The New York Times , a detailed examination of Amazon’s ascent and where it leaves the ‘Big Five’ traditional publishers. Times are changing. Self-publishing is no longer ‘vanity publishing’ – a vaguely embarrassing exercise in assuaging one’s writerly ambitions by paying large sums of money for a small run of leather-bound copies of a book – but a very real and increasingly credible alternative to mainstream publishing. The question for the aspiring literary author is whether to go down this route or to attempt to place one’s work with regular publisher.

Amazon’s strength in selling genre fiction is well-known, but literary fiction is a different beast. Hard to categorise, it is therefore difficult for any retailer to sell other than to its small but passionate fanbase. The new figures are particularly illuminating. Indies who publish through Amazon account for 13% of earnings for lit fic – not too shabby, and equal to earnings for romance through the major publishers.

. . . .

With UK authors earning only £11,000 a year on average, and only 11.5% making a living solely from heir writing, agents nowadays counsel their clients to consider different genres in order to remain commercially viable. Earlier this year, as an experiment, I wrote and self-published a non-fiction title through Amazon’s KDP platform. I hired someone to design a cover and format the text, as well as a freelance editor. Once everything was ready, uploading the book to Amazon was incredibly straightforward and only took a few minutes. A few hours later it was up on the site: I made my first sale shortly afterwards. Now, after a slowish start, the book is selling well. This is in no small part due to the marketing that I have done for it through social media and the content I have written linking back to it for various websites. But of course, once a book starts to sell Amazon’s algorithms pick up on the fact and it gains prominence on the site anyway. While this wasn’t a pet project like my novel, writing the book was still enjoyable – after all, writing is writing – and the process of getting it onto Amazon was incredibly simple and user-friendly.

So would I go down the same route with my – as yet unpublished – literary novel?

. . . .

But it is very hard to discount the prestige a major publishing house still confers on a book. Like with record labels, I will frequently read books I know nothing about, simply because of who they’re published by – Faber, Canongate and Vintage, for example. The best publishers are curators – the reader can usually trust them to bring work to market that has been thoroughly vetted and is of high quality.

But with marketing budgets for first-time writers being pinched in all but the most exceptional cases and microscopic advances, is a somewhat nebulous quality like prestige still worth it?

. . . .

For me personally, right now, the traditional route still feels right for my fiction. I am currently in the process of editing my novel with a literary consultant – I will begin submitting it to agents in a month or so and see what comes of it. The degree to which my age and ingrained respect for the prestige of the big publishers causes me to stick with the old model for the time being is hard to calculate. But I am also very aware of the advantages of Amazon – not least, the ease with which one can use it to get one’s writing out to readers quickly – which is after all the endgame of publishing in any form.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post

Why I Left My Mighty Agency and New York Publishers (for now)

21 July 2014

From author Claire Cook via Jane Friedman’s blog:

As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only thing constant is change.”

I was cruising along, represented by a powerful literary agent from a mighty agency that I both liked and respected, published by a series of big New York publishers that believed in my books and helped me make them better, and receiving advances for my novels that were substantial enough to live well on.

And then the publishing world began to get rocky, just like the music world and the newspaper world and so many others had before it.

I was one of the lucky authors. I had multi-book contracts, I was still being sent on book tour by my publisher and published in both hardcover and paperback, so I was able to put on my blinders and ignore the changes at first.

. . . .

And then, after years of stability and support, it was jolting when a single one of my novels made the rounds through three separate editors, because the first two left the publishing house. I lost count of the in-house publicists disappearing through the revolving door—even their names began to blur.

. . . .

I think they tried hard with the first book, but the things that used to work for traditional publishers trying to break out a book weren’t working so well anymore. I wrote the second book I owed them. And then I found out that their entire plan for this book was to do all the things that hadn’t worked for the first one.

. . . .

And then my editor went off on a three-month maternity leave that would end just before my book came out, leaving her assistant, a very nice young woman a couple years out of college, responsible for the care of my novel. Less than a month before my publication date, I received an email from this very nice assistant telling me she was leaving publishing to start a takeout food business with a friend.

. . . .

Around this time I started receiving emails and calls from booksellers telling me they were having trouble ordering my backlist books that had been published by my last publisher. And then that last publisher went under and was bought out by another publisher who inherited all their titles.

. . . .

Independent self-publishing had taken off and grown into a viable alternative. Authors in situations similar to mine were becoming hybrid authors—both traditionally and self-published. And in this new world, there was little of the cloak and dagger stuff I’d experienced in traditional publishing where everything from money to marketing was kept secret. Indie authors were generously sharing everything they learned to help others on the same path.

. . . .

So the pieces of my new dream started to come together. I would find a way to get the rights to my backlist books reverted, and then I’d republish them with my own publishing company.

. . . .

And then one day on the phone my agent informed me that in order to continue to be represented by this mighty agency, I would have to turn over 15% of the proceeds of my about-to-be self-published book to said agency. Not only that, but I would have to publish it exclusively through Amazon, because the agency had a system in place with Amazon where I could check a box and their 15% would go straight to them, no muss, no fuss.

There was no deal, no sale. There would be no self-publishing assistance, no special treatment from Amazon to give my books an extra push, no marketing. Why would I pay 15% of my profits—forever—simply for the privilege of being represented by a big name agency? And this might well turn out to be representation in name only, since it was made clear to me that the mighty agency’s subagents could not be expected to devote time and energy to selling rights to works that were not traditionally published.

It was wrong, ethically and financially, and I just couldn’t do it. I Googled and searched message boards and was introduced to the term revenue grabbing.

. . . .

I now own seven of my twelve books. I control pricing and promotion, and I can balance my need to earn a living with making my books available to my loyal readers at the best price I can offer them. I can add fresh content and switch excerpts and change covers any time I want. By the time I have ten indie-published books, I think Marshbury Beach Books and I will be doing just fine.

But already I’m happy. Instead of waiting for the next thing to go wrong, instead of feeling like I can’t get close enough to my own career to move it in the right direction, I wake up every day and get right to work.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman and thanks to Alison for the tip. This post is an excerpt from Claire’s book, Never Too Late.

KDP Pricing Support

20 July 2014

From Kindle Direct Publishing:

KDP Pricing Support (Beta)

How It Works

KDP Pricing Support (Beta) is a service that provides information about the impact that changes in KDP book prices have on number of books sold and author earnings.  It analyzes past sales data for groups of books that have similar attribute values and maps the relationship between price changes and number of books sold. The service then estimates author earnings based on this relationship.
Here are examples of attributes used:

  • Category
  • Customer reviews and ratings
  • Book’s best seller rank
  • Author’s past sales
  • Page count

The data presented in the service are one additional input you may use when setting the list price for a new book or when updating the list price for a previously published book. As price is just one of many factors that may affect sales of any title, please use your judgment when considering this data and setting the list price for your book.


All titles are eligible to access KDP Pricing Support (Beta). For some books, the service does not have sufficient underlying data to estimate the relationship between the price and number of books sold for books similar to yours. You will not see the service enabled in these cases. In addition, the service currently only supports or information to help you set list prices in USD. We are working to expand the service to support more books.

The “Beta” Identifier

We expect the service to evolve over time and hence the ‘beta’ identification. However, we believe the information currently provided in the KDP Pricing Support provides an additional input to your pricing decision.

KDP Pricing Support (Beta) and current KDP pricing rules

To help authors more easily understand the data, KDP Pricing Support (Beta) factors in details outlined on the pricing page. For example, if the file size of your book were greater than 3 MB, the minimum list price presented would be $1.99 instead of $0.99. Similarly, the author earnings calculation factors in delivery fees based on file size for the 70% royalty plan.

Any update to a list price is subject to the KDP pricing Terms and Conditions. For example, if you set a list price higher than the list price in another sales channel, we may price-match your book.

In addition, if the digital list price is not at least 20% below the list price of the corresponding physical edition, we may lower the sale price. For more details, please refer to the Pricing Page.

Link to the rest at Kindle Direct Publishing and thanks to Shelly for the tip.

Empowering Writers with Data

19 July 2014

From Digital Book World:

A close writer friend called last week with a dilemma. She needs some extra money in her pocket within the next year and has a book project ready to go: Should she sign with a traditional publisher or go indie? What’s the better choice given her money situation right now? What’s the better choice for her career?

Asking similar questions publicly has put me and my number crunching at the center of controversy. I am in the process of preparing a workshop for the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference in San Antonio, TX. The subject of the workshop is whether there’s a case to make for traditional publishers and agents, a question I’ve written about at length for Digital Book World.

. . . .

Soon after, Deborah Smith of Bell Bridge Books, a traditional publisher, questioned why RWA would allow my workshop on these same themes. She wrongly assumed my upcoming presentation would be “an insulting workshop taught by a non-industry speaker on a topic that is set up *from the start* to marginalize traditionally published members and their careers” and caused an uproar.

Apparently, my questions and my attempts to answer them with the data at hand have hit a major nerve—on both sides of the indie-traditional divide.

. . . .

My friend isn’t interested in asking, “Which publishing method is better?” Despite all the attention this particular question is getting, it’s not the one I’ve been asking, and it doesn’t help my friend, when she wants to know, “What’s better for me in this situation?” The first step in empowering ourselves with data is asking the right question.

. . . .

My friend’s a bestselling author who has had multi-book contracts, including print, with Big 5 publishers. Despite this, she claims to have yet to earn enough in advances and royalties combined to cover the expenses she’s incurred marketing and promoting her books. This situation hasn’t been problematic, since she considered she was building her career and fan base and easily saw how her publishers partnered with her in this endeavor. But now she needs money, and financial concerns are at the forefront.

She has a book written. She’s about to go back into contract negotiations with her current publisher and is realistically hoping for a significantly larger advance. An advance from her publisher is a sure thing, immediate money in the pocket, and, given her situation, not to be readily dismissed if she can pull the figure she wants. However, even if the publisher coughs up the requisite cash, her current sales numbers indicate that she may stand to earn quite a bit more if she self-publishes and reaps the indie royalties. If she hits the same digital sales level she currently has with her traditional sales, she could potentially make substantially more money self-publishing than signing with her publisher—but it’s not guaranteed and it would be over a much larger time horizon. She has a number of very visible peers writing in her genre who have done just that. They readily argue that she should join their ranks.

No matter how much data I review, there are no easy answers here.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Self-publishing surging to 31% of ebook market, claims report

19 July 2014

From The Guardian:

A new report claims that self-published authors have surged to 31% of ebook sales on, and are now earning more ebook royalties than writers published by the “Big five” traditional publishers. Despite research published earlier this month finding professional UK authors’ incomes plunging below minimum standards, self-publishing champion Hugh Howey says the new results, in his third Author Earnings report, prove DIY authors are “here to stay”.

“While it should be a jolt to see that indies are earning nearly 40% of the ebook dollars going to authors,” the report concluded, “we are starting to take this reality for granted. That’s real progress. As it has proven to be in other fields of entertainment, the indie movement in literature is not a blip and not a gold rush. It appears to be here to stay.”

. . . .

According to the Bookseller editor Philip Jones there are “large question marks” about Howey’s data.

“This is a very narrow selection of a particular type of market at a particular time,” he said. “Most people who’ve looked at this in any depth say you can’t extrapolate from bestseller rankings on the Kindle store to a picture of the wider market. Howey sees an ice-cube, and shrieks ‘iceberg’.”

While Howey has sparked an important conversation about author earnings, Jones continued, the report’s positioning and aggressive rhetoric obscures much of its value.

“The fact that we don’t know who this ‘Data Guy’ is or where he’s come from suggest that we should take the Author Earnings report with a large pinch of salt,” Jones said. “I think of it more as part of Amazon’s PR effort, rather than an objective overview of the digital marketplace.”

. . . .

According to Jones, authors and publishers would welcome an “adult debate” about ebook sales and author earnings, but in the absence of sales figures from Amazon that’s just not possible.

“Nobody has a good view of this market, because Amazon holds all the data and doesn’t share it,” he said. “Anyone who claims otherwise is just making it up.”

. . . .

“First, these figures don’t look at sales of print books, which will still be a major part of the earnings from a Big five publisher. Even if you look at ebooks only, these figures don’t take into account the risk and up-front costs which self-published authors take on themselves,” she said, “Nor the impact of advances received by a traditionally-published author.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian

PG says since nobody on the tradpub side seems to act like a rational adult when discussions of self-publishing and Amazon occur, we’re unlikely to be able to schedule an adult debate any time soon.

July 2014 Author Earnings Report

17 July 2014

From Author Earnings:

It has been nearly half a year since we first pulled data for nearly every ranked ebook on’s thousands of category bestseller lists. This is our third quarterly report, and every data set tells us something new. With enough reports, we should be able to spot emerging trends in the world of digital publishing in order to help authors make the best decisions with their manuscripts.

As before, we are dividing the ebooks up by publication path while looking at the following four measures: the number of ranked titles, the number of unit sales, gross earnings, and authors’ earnings. Our primary focus at is the writer, so we pay special attention to the last of these measures.

. . . .





. . . .

Of note here is that all of our graphs show remarkable consistency across data sets taken over the course of half a calendar year. And with our latest data set, we estimate that self-published authors now account for 31% of total daily ebook sales regardless of genre. This makes indie authors, as a cohort, the largest publisher of ebooks on in terms of market share.


Gross sales are where it begins to get interesting. Now we are factoring price into the equation. We know self-published ebooks cost less than ebooks from the Big 5, but how much less? Being able to see the combined effect of price and sales rank in a single graph for 120,000 ebooks is very powerful. A lot of small discrepancies begin to average out with such a massive sample size. And while indies have seen positive movement across all three quarters, it’s too soon to tell if this is a global or a seasonal trend. It could be that indies promote their books year-round while major publishers pull out all the stops around the Holidays. This time next year, we should be able to answer this question.


In February, we were able to announce that self-published authors are earning nearly as much as Big 5 authors combined when it comes to ebook sales on the Kindle Store. In the two quarters since, the earnings for Big 5 authors has shrunk while that for indies has grown. We can now say that self-published authors earn more in royalties than Big 5 authors, combined.

. . . .

It bears putting a number here and stressing what we are seeing: Self-published authors are now earning nearly 40% of all ebook royalties on the Kindle store. The days of looking at self-publishing as a last option are long gone. A lot has changed in six months.

. . . .

It wasn’t surprising to see that most Big 5 books employ DRM, but we were shocked to see that it is practically 100% of them. Indies, on the other hand, locked down roughly 50% of their titles. Since there isn’t any variation in the Big 5 books, we are forced to look at the self-published titles for any effect on sales, and indeed there is one. The 50% of non-DRM ebooks account for 64% of total unit sales.

Indie titles without DRM sell twice as many copies each, on average, as those with DRM.


We believe this is one of the most important graphs we have ever published. At a glance, we can see how each publishing path performs in the top genre categories, and we can also see how these genres compare to one another in both total revenue and market share by publishing path. This last distinction is crucial, because the old-time advice to “never self-publish” has now faded to the advice that “self-publishing only works in certain genres.”

The truth is that, regardless of which publishing path an author chooses, some genres of trade ebooks sell vastly better than others, period. Other genres languish. For Big 5 authors, Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense is by far the most lucrative genre. But you don’t hear many people assert that traditional publishing is only good for people writing sleuths. Another common refrain is that nonfiction and literary fiction are uncrackable genres for indies. But in non-fiction, self-published authors are earning 26% to the Big 5′s 35%.

It turns out that Big 5 publishers have nearly as small a portion of Romance earnings (18%) and Science Fiction & Fantasy earnings (29%) as indies have of Literary Fiction earnings (13%) and Nonfiction earnings (26%), respectively.

Self publishing isn’t just viable for Romance and Sci-Fi/Fantasy. While indie authors are absolutely dominating traditionally-published authors in those particular genres, indies have also taken significant market share inall genres, including Mystery/Thriller/Suspense and Non-fiction. The market for literary fiction is anemic for indie authors simply because it is an anemic segment of publishing overall.

In fact, Literary Fiction makes up only 2% of Amazon ebook unit sales and 3% of Amazon ebook dollar sales. More startling is the fact that 20% of that 3% belongs to a single aggressively-promoted title, The Goldfinch.

Link to the rest at Author Earnings.

The Tenured vs. Debut Author Report

17 July 2014

UPDATE: Oops. Posted this late last night and was off the grid this morning. Latest report up above.

From Author Earnings:

In our most recent earnings report, one chart jumped out at us and begged for deeper analysis: It was a look at daily author earnings according to publication date, and it revealed the heavy reliance Big 5 publishers have on the sale of their backlist titles. The same chart showed, less surprisingly, that self-published authors are making the vast majority of their earnings on recently published works. In a single chart we were witness to the economic effects of new participants entering an industry in which they were formerly uncompetitive. The same chart made it apparent that the effects self-publishing will have on the trade book industry have only just begun.

Because of this chart, we began looking more deeply at authors from two different camps: those who debuted prior to the explosion of self-publishing and those who debuted after. Authors getting their start today will of course be joining the latter camp. And we believe those authors will want to know the following:

• Big-5 publishers are massively reliant on their most established authors to the tune of 63% of their e-book revenue.

• Roughly 46% of traditional publishing’s fiction dollars are coming from e-books.

• Very few authors who debut with major publishers make enough money to earn a living—and modern advances don’t cover the difference.

• In absolute numbers, more self-published authors are earning a living wage today than Big-5 authors.

• When comparing debut authors who have equal time on the market, the difference between self-published and Big-5 authors is even greater.

In this report, we will also reveal how e-book earnings represent roughly 64% of a traditionally published fiction author’s income, and therefore why authors should focus less on statistics geared toward publisher earnings and trade bookstore sales and consider their own incomes instead. Finally, we will tackle the difficult question of just how many authors are earning a living wage today. The results are sobering. I’ll spoil it for you and say that there aren’t many. But there are reasons to celebrate. Read on to see why.

. . . .

[We started] wondering how much of traditionally-published author revenue was coming from new releases by long-tenured authors, and how much of it was coming from debut authors. This is a crucial question for a new artist hoping to break into an entertainment sector. What we were hoping to discover is how many seats are left on the traditionally published bus. So we divided authors and books into “New” and “Old” using January 1, 2010 as a cutoff date, and checked.

. . . .




. . . .

This final chart reveals a startling insight: If the Big 5 hadn’t signed a new author since 2009, and simply released new works from their long-established authors, they would still be making 63% of the e-book revenue that they are making today. Ownership of backlist and long-tenured authors is quite clearly big publishing’s most powerful commodity. This goes a long way toward explaining ever more restrictive reversion and non-compete clauses in publishing contracts. It also lends credence to rumors that some top-name authors are already receiving ebook royalties higher than 25% of net. Publishers rely heavily on these established authors and may be willing to violate their own most favored nation clauses in an attempt to retain them.

. . . .

This time, when comparing only the earnings of “New” authors who debuted after 2010, we see that below a tiny handful of mega-selling Big-5 debuts (like Veronica Roth), far more “New” indie authors are making a good living from their Kindle e-books than their “New” Big-5 peers. This is a logarithmic scale, which means a little separation signifies quite a difference in outcomes.

Some might argue that this comparison does not reveal the entire picture, because best-selling traditionally-published authors have a healthier complement of print sales than their indie counterparts. However, non-ebook revenue for traditional-published authors makes up a smaller percentage of their author earnings than you might think, and this is especially true for authors of fiction. To see this requires a digression, one that may be just as important for the aspiring author as our larger analysis in this report.

. . . .

While only 32% of the publishing industry’s gross revenue currently comes from e-books, nearly 64% of the average traditionally-published fiction author’s earnings is coming from their e-books. Earnings for the average genre-fiction author will skew even further toward their e-book sales. Perhaps an e-book-based comparison between publishing types is not so unfair a comparison after all. Especially when considering that the gain of 8% – 15% royalties on print sales means taking a massive cut in e-book royalties—from 70% of gross to 25% of net.

. . . .

[This data] neatly captures so much of what is going on in the e-book market today, mainly that there are far more indie debut authors from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 who are now holding spots on the Amazon bestseller charts than Big-5 debut authors. Even more striking, the number of today’s bestsellers from these “New” indie debut authors increases steeply year-over-year, while the number of today’s bestsellers from “New” Big-5 debut authors stays flat. The number of today’s bestsellers from small to medium publisher debut authors is also growing year over year, although not at the same explosive rate with which indie debuts are grabbing and holding slots on the charts.

. . . .

After years and years of querying and jumping through gatekeeper hoops, it appears that even the less-than-1% who are lucky enough to land an agent and a Big-5 publishing contract can’t manage to quit their day jobs. (This is an observation in the data that matches what we have seen anecdotally in the publishing and bookselling trenches).

By contrast, we see over 700 Indie-published authors who debuted in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 who are today earning more than $25,000/year from their Kindle e-books alone. For these authors, e-book sales on other platforms and POD print sales will add another 20%-30% on average to this total. It’s easy to see that, for the past 4 years, and even taking lost print sales into consideration, far more Indie authors than Big-5 authors are earning a living wage from their writing.

Link to the rest at Author Earnings

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