Just want to say thanks for this Michael! Nice breakdown and great discussion.
This is a discussion on "Show me the money...traditional verses self publihing" in the Publishing forum.
I find that hard to accept. Most self pubbed authors sell very few books, (two hundred is the figure often bandied about though I have no stats for it), and if the average trad pubbed author / book sold only 7,500 copies authors, publishers and agents would be going to the wall at huge rates. Where it works for the self pubber in my view is at the bottom end, where they compare whatever sales they make against zero sales they would make by going the trad route because they couldn't get pubbed at all. And at the top end, where authors already have a name, so the trad pubber can't add a lot to their marketing and so the difference in royalties becomes the overriding factor.
As for the other part, yes a lot of the best selling ebooks on kindle are self pubbed, but that's largely because of contractual arguments between the big six publishers and Amazon. The trad pubbed books aren't on the kindle which drastically skews the results.
As for me, the reason I'd consider going trad is largely based on a few factors. First the professionalism,with book covers and editing etc. If I want to raise my work to the top level its the way I have to go. Second, getting some books into print - I personally find the entire createspace thing confusing at best. And third the marketing, which I admit, I simply don't do.
They will, however, put substantial funds towards the cover design & various marketing efforts. The amount of money required to do this effectively is more than most self-published authors can afford.Originally Posted by danr62
“Maybe the hardest thing in writing is simply to tell the truth about things as we see them.”
― John Steinbeck
Evidence? Your wish is my command.
Stop the press: half of self-published authors earn less than $500 | Books | guardian.co.uk
As I thought, most self pubbers earn not much at all, but a few high profilers skew the stats. And since I write sci fi and fantasy I'm boned too! I suppose I should just be grateful to have beaten the odds.
Yep, saw that a while back. Okay so half the epubbers earn very little, how does that compare to those same people in traditional publishing?
(my answer is that they would make $0 cause they wouldn't even get in the door)
It also says the Average is $10K which is better than most advances from traditional publishers:
"the average amount earned by DIY authors last year was just $10,000"
As far as the money being concentrated in the upper 10% (or so) that is no different in self-pub than in traditional.
Again the claim about traditional publishers not being on Kindle is simply wrong.
What is your game here?
You have a link to your books? I'd like to check them out if possible.
Also just ran across this article (linked from the one above): http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012...tar?intcmp=239
The second part of my first post is harder to pin down. Why are indie books polling in the higher sales ranking than trad pubbed ebooks on kindle. You are right trad publishers are there, and I mistyped, for which I apologise. Not running a game here, just working with memories from reading years of blogs and forum posts.
However trad publishers are relatively poorly represented. In part this is I think due to the legal actions on going between the big six and Amazon, unless this has been resolved. And also that the big six are looking at other e publishers, I think Apple is their newest baby from memory.
But the big reason why trad publishers appear poorly represented in the top sales ranks of kindle, is price.
This survey shows some of the answers I think:
Genre Surveys Part 2: Science Fiction and Fantasy Ebook Bestsellers Examined
As you can see this is only a small survey, and its far from the only one. But if you want to see the difference between trads versus indies in the top one hundred sales ranks for sci fi and fantasy, look at the prices. The trad published books are in the dearer range, the indies in the cheaper. So what we're seeing here in my view is that indies are climbing the sales charts by lowering prices.
Traditional publishers have a hard time competing with this as they invest in their authors and editors and all the other stuff that goes with publishing. They also have books out in printed forms and lowering the price of an ebook version significantly, impacts on their printed sales, making it difficult to get their books out on book store shelves. So they have to remain in the higher price ranges. Indies don't have these expenses, they may or may not be printed, and even if they are, createspace means that it costs them nothing if their paperbacks don't sell.
Now as to the money. What we see in that Guardian article is an average figure by author not book. Not sure how your stats are but averages can be skewed badly. The ten thousand dollar figure is an average, but its primarily weighted by a relatively few authors earning the top bucks. I think the author says that 75% of the money goes to the top 10%. The median author (the guy in the middle) is earning less then five hundred bucks. The other thing as I said is that this is by author not book. So if the author earns ten thousand, it may be for one book or ten. He may be getting a return on his books of ten thousand bucks each (one book) or one thousand bucks each (ten books), to make this income. The median author if say he has five books out is making one hundred bucks per book per year. I imagine he would be absolutely thrilled to get a ten grand advance from a publisher. (And an advance is generally for one book as I understand it.)
Having said that, yes, as I said at the outset, he's still ahead of the game than if he'd stayed trad and never been published at all.
My conclusion from all of this would be that those who have contracts with reputable publishers, as authors, almost certainly do financially better then those without.
Then why are so many established writers moving to self-pub and making significantly more money?
I think your conclusion is wrong and will become more wrong as the industry continues to follow the path it is on.
If half of self publishers are making less than $500, doesn't that mean that half are making more than that?
How many of those lower half have only published one book and done very little to no marketing? How many of them are just starting out and haven't really taken off yet? How many of them have more books in them that will allow them to steadily increase their sales over time?