Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Indie Author Earnings

#AuthorEarnings ~ Are There Any?

Sure, folks with lots of money can buy their way into the BookWorld and sometimes make a killing.

Author Earnings

Image Courtesy of José A. Warletta ~

Then, there are the very few authors who happen to land a publishing deal and continue to make a decent amount of money.

Still, most writers make very little


Between “most” and “the very few” there are “lots” of authors doing fairly well.

Enter author Hugh Howey and his anonymous “DataMagician” who have been raising a ruckus about IndieAuthor earnings.

I did a post last year with lots of links to their various studies—Author Earnings and What’s Really Going on in the Book World.

Today, I’ll share some info from their latest report—May 2016 Author Earnings Report: the definitive million-title study of US author earnings.

They begin with:

“Data in the publishing biz is hard to come by. Without widespread sharing of data by retailers, publishers, agents, and authors, we are all left like the blind to describe different parts of the same but seemingly disjointed elephant. Two years ago, AuthorEarnings released its first report on a new part of this elephant: E-book sales on Our report stirred controversy, as it described a formerly unseen world of publishing data.”

They then reveal:

“So for this report, we went deeper. Instead of just looking at Amazon’s bestseller lists, we had our spider follow links to also-bought recommendations and also through each authors’ full catalog. This resulted in a million-title dataset, our most comprehensive and definitive look yet at author earnings. We were able to tally up precisely how many indie authors, Big Five authors, small/medium press authors, and Amazon-imprint authors are currently making enough from sales to land in a number of ‘tax brackets’.”

And, no matter what you personally feel about Amazon, they do sell an amazing number of books (and diapers…).

Here’s a breakdown of what they captured info on:

Nearly every single Kindle book selling 1 or more copy per day. (98.5% of them)

90% of all Kindle titles selling at least 2-3 copies a week

81% of all Kindle titles selling 1 or more copy a week

64% of all Kindle titles selling 2 or more copies a month

32% of all Kindle titles listed in the Amazon US Kindle store.

There’s lots of analysis of the numbers from their latest data-exploration in the full article; but, I’ll share a bit of what I consider important:

“…the Big Five’s year-long plummet in overall ebook unit sales appears to have finally leveled off, leaving them with roughly 23% of Amazon’s ebook unit sales.”

“…every author who debuted anytime in the last century and is currently accumulating income at a rate of $10,000 a year or more from their Amazon US sales alone….almost 9,900 such authors”

“…Almost half of those 9,900 authors also appear in the $25000-or-better bracket…”

“…over 2,500 authors…are currently earning at a living-wage run rate — $50,000/year or more — from just their Amazon sales.”

“1,340 authors are earning $100,000/year or more from Amazon sales.”

And, just in case you wondered:

“On Amazon alone, the data shows over a thousand indie authors earning a full-time living right now with their self-published titles.”

However, doing a little math with a few of their numbers, it seems there are over 300,000 book sales a day on Amazon—and, my best intuitive guess is that somewhere around 100,000 authors are selling those books (which should mean there are many more authors selling none)

I think we’re still able to say most writers make very little

And, if you want to do a little self-therapy on why writers continue to work at writing and attempting to sell their books, check out my past post—Selling Books Is Hard. ~ So, Why Do Writers Keep Trying?
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A Few Facts ( And, Speculations) About Indie Author Earnings

Much is being said about how much a writer can earn if they self-publish.

Author Earnings

Image courtesy of Thiago Felipe Festa ~

And, much is being discussed about the terms “Indie Author” vs. “Self-Published Author”.

Today, I want to focus on the Earnings for writers (whatever they’re called) if they Don’t use a Traditional Publisher

We have to start with considerations of how digital self-publishing is affecting traditional publishers.

And, it would also be advantageous to consider how writers can actually make a living

One other consideration, which I featured in the past post, Is The Success of Indie Authors Just A Bunch of Hype? (where I brought in the thoughts of Smashwords CEO, Mark Coker), is also an important topic.

One author who’s at the front line of exploring author earnings is Hugh Howey; and, Mark Coker explores the fuss Howey has created with his efforts to expose some facts about Indie Author Earnings in the article, Hugh Howey and the Indie Author Revolt.

By the way, if you don’t click-through on all the links I’ve already given you, and you want to clearly understand the issues of Indie vs Traditional, do make an effort to check out that last link :-)

Mr. Coker also has an article called, Indie Ebook Author Community to Earn More than Traditional Ebook Authors.

He admits that he’s in the realm of speculation but he is the CEO of “the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks”.

The article has charts and all that but I want to focus on just a few of his summary comments:

“My projections paint a picture of an indie author community poised to capture an ever-larger share of ebook profits if print continues to decline in importance.”

“But this does not mean that indie authorship is the road to riches.”

“The rise of self-published ebooks will lead to a glut of high-quality books that never go out of print.”

“These books, combined with the ebook releases of traditional publishers, will accumulate on ebook retailer shelves and lead to more high-quality ebooks competing for a limited number of reader eyeballs.”

“It means readers will become more discerning.”

“It means all authors – indie or otherwise – will face more intense competition than ever before.”

Let me add, “more intense competition” certainly, but digital publishing does give more writers the Chance to get into the game :-)

Now, I’d like your opinion

Can you agree with this last comment from Mark?

“Good books aren’t good enough anymore.  Readers want wow books. Indies will deliver.”
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