1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Viral Report on Self Published Earnings Crashed This Server

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by danr62, Feb 11, 2014.

  1. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

    1,824
    711
    113
    Hi,

    I like the Weinberg post - maybe because I'm also by nature a statistician. But there's no great surprises in any of the three posts. They all say the same thing - it's a skewed sample set being overused (the top 1.5% to 4% of books in a select few categories in Amazon ebooks if Weinberg is accurate). Hugh mentions this upfront which is the right thing to do in any statistical analysis, but I'm not sure he completely allows for this in extrapolating from his results to his conclusions.

    As I said before the main thing to take from Hugh's survey is that if you can make a reasonable fist of producing a good story, cover, blurb, marketing etc and you want to sell as an ebook on Amazon, you will likely make more money from this channel as an indie than as trade published.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  2. I like the DBW report too. I found it fascinating, because it said something that Hugh's report really only hinted at.

    According to the DBW charts, it is VERY clear that the median and mean author will make significantly more money as an indie than as a trad pub writer. Found that interesting indeed.
     
  3. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    628
    227
    43
    You can count me in the same camp - although my limited scale look wasn't nearly as extensive as theirs. I'm glad they publish the data and will be doing more of this.

    In some ways yes, and others no. It certainly provides the validity that we always knew...showing that both paths can have success. But the fact is not every author can self-publish successfully. I'd rather have them sign traditionally then release a product that is substandard because they don't have the skills to do for themselves, or hire others, to produce the level of quality required.
     
  4. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    628
    227
    43
    For me personally my ebook to print ratio is 39.1% print to 60.9% ebook. I keep tabs on the ratio of other big-five published authors and we are all running "higher on ebook then print. Brandon Sanderson, for instance is 2/3 ebook 1/3 print. I don't get a breakdown between outlets so I don't know how much sells at Meijer and how much at Amazon. I'm trade paperback and it may be different for a mass-market paperback writer - but genre fiction does very well in ebooks and certainly above the "industry standard of 30%.


    That's not to say that what are termed Indie Authors can't do well, but when comparing reaching readers, and income, such things have to be considered.[/QUOTE]
     
  5. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    628
    227
    43
    Yes there are millions of books on Amazon - but to say this data represents the top 1.5% - 4.0% is a bit misleading. The data set has books from rankings 752,309 and up. There is plenty of "mid-list" and below "mid-list" in that data sample. Sure there are books with rankings in 1,000,000+ or 3,000,000+ or more - but the sales of those are so minor that I don't care about them.

    To me...the important data (and I've not looked at it yet) is to consider the authors in various ranges that I think are very "obtainable" by any author. In other words I don't care about those in the top 10 - few will get there - nor do I care about those in the 750,000+ ranking as they aren't earning. The ranges I would focus on are:

    1,000 - 2,000 - Ranking in this range represent a high performer - but not so high as to be unachievable
    2,001 - 5,000 - A high mid-list author's sales
    5,001 - 10,000 - A solid middle of the road mid lister
    10,001+ - 15,000 - A low mid list author
    15,000 - 25,000 - Someone who is earning some nice supplemental income from their books
    25,000 - 50,000 - People at this range have been able to pay some bills but probably aren't quitting their day job.

    At some point I'm going to look at data in those ranges as I think they are numbers that any "well written" author is likely to fall within.
     
  6. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    628
    227
    43
    The problem I have with the DBW report is the sampling. Most of those that responded came from Writer's Digest and were in the "aspiring categories" - Because so many of the "traditional" authors reported no income - I'm guessing there are a large number with small presses (with no advances). I think it is good representing the "starting out" and "aspiring author" segment but I don't think it penetrated to most authors who write for a living.
     
  7. stephenspower

    stephenspower Inkling

    486
    164
    43
    More articles on the Howey report:

    Michael Cader of Publishers Lunch (not sure if you can see this without a subscription)
    Part 1: The Discussion Over "Author Earnings" (Part 1) - Publishers Lunch
    Part 2: The Truth About eBook Sales (Part 2): The Market Is Flat, and Self-Publishing Isn't Big Enough to Change That - Publishers Lunch

    Dana Beth Weinberg's followup piece:
    Ten Reasons You Can’t Trust Everything You Read About the Author Earnings Report | Digital Book World

    (I kind of love that her initials are the same as those of Digital Book World.)

    DearAuthor.com:
    How (not) to lie with statistics | Dear Author
     
  8. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    1,084
    200
    63
  9. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    628
    227
    43
    Here is my take on this report:

    It seems to me there are two issues. The raw data extracted, which actually covers a nice swatch of authors as the rankings go from 1 to 752,000. This grabs the mid-list nicely and we can see do a lot with that data alone. Then there is the calculations that take that data and attempt to determine daily sales and later yearly incomes. Yeah, there are a lot of problems with this...not the least of which is that a one shot pull doesn't show the "range of rankings" for a book on a given day, or that sales at rank x are different in March then they are in December, or that a book won't stay at the same rank for a year, which is where the train comes off the rails.

    The important thing is that Hugh has provided the raw data, and I'm others can tease some interesting information out of it. When I get a chance, I'm going to do so myself ;-) If we look at just the raw data (which I don't think anyone is disputing its accuracy) it proves what many have been saying for a long time...that self-published authors are running toe-to-toe with traditionally published authors in terms of sales on the largest bookseller in the world. With higher royalties even if these authors ONLY get income from Amazon, they are making a really nice living wage. There are thousands of authors, without household names, that are making five and six figure incomes. It proves once and for all that self-publishing can be a viable option for those with the entrepreneur spirit, and even those seeking traditional publishing should rejoice, since it shows publishers that they are not in competition only with each other, but with the concept of "going it alone." In such an environment, publishers will have to adjust their contracts and "industry standards" to attract and retain authors.
     
  10. danr62

    danr62 Sage

    254
    46
    28
    Here's something I find interesting about this data. It's clear that the spider also collects book and author data, so if this information is put into a database we should be able to see how rankings change over time. It would be interesting to get an idea of how this fluctuates, and possibly get a better idea of average daily sales (inferred from rank) over the course of a year, and how that impacts these earning projections.
     
  11. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    628
    227
    43
    Indeed, I've been communicating with "Data Guy" over the past few days and said exactly that - he is going to be incorporating such a thing in future pulls. We are going to give them all a unique ID so their names are exposed but you can track that same author through multiple reports.
     
  12. danr62

    danr62 Sage

    254
    46
    28
    I also wonder how long it takes these spiders to crawl through Amazon and collect data. How often will they be able to pull up these results? Obviously, doing it more will give more accurate results.

    I'm also worried that Amazon could block these spiders if they choose.
     
  13. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

    424
    242
    43
    I don't think Amazon will be too upset with spiders who demonstrate that authors make money publishing through Amazon. :)
     
  14. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    1,084
    200
    63
    I didn't read the collection method very closely, but I'm assuming they're reading tags right out of the html return. I've done datamining in a similar fashion. Amazon could only stop the data collection if they stopped providing the information on public-facing webpages.
     
  15. danr62

    danr62 Sage

    254
    46
    28
    Wouldn't they be able to block that IP though?
     
  16. Anyone with the tech savvy to program this spider PROBABLY has the skills to use a proxy to mask an IP. ;)

    That said, Amazon gets crawled all the time. By Google, by other retailers... And Amazon crawls other retailers back. It's normal.
     

Share This Page