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vrabinec
02-12-2014, 07:30 PM
Interesting article. Anybody seen this? Lots of graphs about the earnings of indie authors and trad authors. Interesting speculation that the trad books get lower reviews because they cost more.

http://authorearnings.com/the-report/

KMTolan
02-12-2014, 08:27 PM
I find the data a bit questionable, especially where small pub authors are concerned, but it's hard drawing a firm judgement when I'm just as biased as the report writer. I do wish this data had been presented by someone other than an author or publisher. Not sure how they conjured up the sales figures in any case.

Kerry

vrabinec
02-12-2014, 08:52 PM
I do wish this data had been presented by someone other than an author or publisher.
Kerry

:Shrug:Yeah, I'm not sure we're about to see a team of Norwegians in lab coats running out to do a study. This is kind of a private little war, and anyone posting any kind of numbers is probably going to be trying to prove a point. But if those numbers are even anywhere near close to being the truth, it's eye-opening.

Williebee
02-12-2014, 08:54 PM
I'm more amused and interested in some of the side effects of this campaign. (For some it is a discussion, for folks like the author of the link it has become a campaign to defend and gather followers for a belief.)

For example, from these discussions we may develop a distinction between "bestseller" and "best seller."

And perhaps a larger percentage of our kind may stop losing sight of the truth that, just as there is no one market, there is no "one best way" to reach all of them.

veinglory
02-12-2014, 09:00 PM
I think that there is an immediate narrowing of focus in comparing only bestsellers--making the data most useful to those who can confidently predict they will be in that bracket.

I think that an author who could confidentially predict their book would be a bestseller and sell similar high volumes whether it was trade or self published, would have good reason to go self.

But how many of are really facing that kind of decision?

shadowwalker
02-12-2014, 09:08 PM
I've given up reading surveys (in any field). One always has to look at who sponsored it/conducted it, what their motivation is (strictly looking for factual data or trying to prove a point), where/how they got their data (people deciding to voluntarily send it in versus properly done sampling), etc etc. And then, of course, the conclusions drawn - that's where things can really go askew. Again, this is with any survey/report.

Hoplite
02-12-2014, 09:12 PM
Let me get this straight:
The author of the article states that past data compiled by big publishing houses is flawed, largely in part due to that companies like Barnes & Noble and Amazon don't release sales data. The author then decides to use anecdotal evidence, personal experience, and the experience that others have chosen to share, and presents it as authentic....I have a bit of a problem with that. Also, none of those figures have margins of error. So what if indie books are rated higher on average than big publisher books? If the margin of error is plus-or-minus 1.00 then they overlap and there is no statistical significance.

Either way I found the article interesting. I've thought of self-publishing some short stories I have, but have held off because I'm too lazy to go through the efforts. It's much easier to email-sub, sit back, and wait while I have a beer.

amergina
02-12-2014, 09:41 PM
Hold on to your hats, everyone. The thread is moving (because Novels isn't the place for it).

ETA: Moved.

Kylabelle
02-12-2014, 09:52 PM
Thanks, amergina.

vrabinec, thanks for including your own remark with the initial link post and also for staying with the thread.

As this is the third thread linking to this report, we're going to close any subsequent threads and direct people to this one.

Let's keep things civil and respectful toward all.

Thank you.

MacAllister
02-12-2014, 10:15 PM
A bunch of threads pointing to this site have popped up, that will be/have been locked, merged, or otherwise dealt with here on AW. HH apparently A small KBoard contingent apparently sent folks over (http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,178430.msg2515514.html#msg2515514) to post the link to his newest venture. (And here's a big thank-you to the Kboard mod, by the way, for trying to discourage the trolling.)

So we'll be monitoring these threads closely, since HH sending Kboard people coming here (completely independently) for the purposes of "stirring things up" is hardly new -- and not particularly welcome.

So let's DO be rather careful in terms of the tone and content of our posts about this, folks. My level of tolerance for blatant trolling from infrequent visitors (http://www.thepassivevoice.com/02/2014/new-author-earnings-report/#comment-168294) is going to be particularly low.

vrabinec
02-12-2014, 10:55 PM
I think that an author who could confidentially predict their book would be a bestseller and sell similar high volumes whether it was trade or self published, would have good reason to go self.

But how many of are really facing that kind of decision?

This kinda made me blink a bit. Are you saying you think that, if an author thinks his books will sell a ton, he would be better off going self-pub'd, and if he thinks they won't sell that much, he should go trad (if he can, which is a big IF)?

I dunno. The indies who are hitting it big are jumping at the chance to sign with agents and publishers like Simon & Shuster to get the big paper book sales. I'm kinda wondering why it would be beneficial to go indie if they're jumping on that. Seems like the best deal an author can land is to go indie on the e-books, and go trad on the paper.

DoNoKharms
02-12-2014, 10:57 PM
Interesting speculation that the trad books get lower reviews because they cost more.

http://authorearnings.com/the-report/

As was noted in the previous thread, the data in this report seems pretty suspect, and certainly not statistically thorough. For example, on this point, I find it baffling the report doesn't consider the possibility that self-pub readers and trade pub readers are distinct groups with distinct standards of evaluation, which feels like a far simpler and more plausible explanation.

juniper
02-12-2014, 11:04 PM
The indies who are hitting it big are jumping at the chance to sign with agents and publishers like Simon & Shuster to get the big paper book sales.

Yes, it seems as if almost all of them are, including the ones who talk the most about "the revolution." So why is that overlooked by the self-pub fan club?

I have friends who have self published, friends who went with tiny micro publishers, and friends who were published by respectable small presses.

I don't think I personally know anyone who's been published by a Biggie Corp.

But I think most of them would have chosen that route, if there was a choice to be made.

I personally like the idea of making it big self-pub style and then being offered a contract by a Biggie. The best of both worlds - show you can do it yourself, then get the thrill of seeing the book in hard cover at the bookstore.

Do self-published authors remember physical bookstores? The ones I visit are still quite crowded at the check out stands. Yet for some writers, it's all about the Amazon numbers.

And maybe I'm just too cynical, but I think the Amazon royalty rates will drop dramatically in the next couple of years, once Amazon gains the market share they're looking for. They're in it for the money - not for the writers, editors, publishers, etc. A book to them is just another item to sell, like a spatula or a duvet cover.

Hoplite
02-12-2014, 11:10 PM
As was noted in the previous thread, the data in this report seems pretty suspect, and certainly not statistically thorough. For example, on this point, I find it baffling the report doesn't consider the possibility that self-pub readers and trade pub readers are distinct groups with distinct standards of evaluation, which feels like a far simpler and more plausible explanation.

Yeah, the conclusions made are pretty one-sided. I had a similar reaction in the section discussing the differences in profit-margins between indie and big publishing:

I would expect indie authors to have higher margins, they're doing nearly all the work for production, marketing, distribution, etc. for their book. The advantage of a big publisher is that they do all that stuff for you, and as a result, need their own margins to remain profitable. Depending on your level of time-commitment, expertise, ability to sell, etc. it may perfectly well be worth it to give up some profit margin to have a publisher do that work for you. It'd be similar to an indie author paying an artist for cover-art, an editor to edit, and so on.

Williebee
02-12-2014, 11:15 PM
Seems like the best deal an author can land is to go indie on the e-books, and go trad on the paper.

Depends on the author. Depends on where that author is in their "popularity arc" for lack of a more dignified way of saying it. Also depends on what they write, what they are selling and what kind of platform/reach they have.

Too often people who are pushing a "this is the right way" to publish use examples that don't compare apples to apples.

Say Author 1 was a "nobody knows of them."

Say Author 2 was a "everybody knows and loves them." (or at least has hated them loudly.)

If Author 2 self-publishes on Amazon, everybody in the literary world is going to hear about it. Amazon is going to scream it at the top of their lungs. The media will talk about because it is Author 2. Author 2's fans will talk about it because "cool, there's something new to read from Author 2."

Meanwhile, Author 1 and ten of his "nobody knows us yet" friends have self-pubbed eleven books on Amazon, and everybody, including their family and friends is talking about Author 2. Sure, family and friends are also saying, 1 is an Author too! But how much reach do they really have?

How much reach might they have if a pub house put X amount of dollars behind promoting their book? Probably not even as much as Author 2 already has, sure. But most likely more than Author 1 has on his own.

When comparing authors to authors, and books to books, that context, the apples, matter.

alexaherself
02-13-2014, 12:07 AM
Too often people who are pushing a "this is the right way" to publish use examples that don't compare apples to apples.

Indeed. All too often they're not even comparing apples with oranges or bananas, either: more like comparing apples with Persian carpets or fish markets.

Recently I've seen people telling new, unpublished writers that "self-publishing must be better for them, and they can see that because even Lawrence Block has just self-published his latest book". Apparently it doesn't occur to them that Lawrence Block, being in his 70's and having written over 100 steadily selling books (many of them bestsellers, according to whose definition of "bestseller" you like) is in a rather different position from that of the people they're trying to "persuade". :rolleyes:

For some reason it seems to be difficult for some to acknowledge the reality that some books (and authors) are far better suited to self-publishing than others.

vrabinec
02-13-2014, 12:34 AM
A bunch of threads pointing to this site have popped up, that will be/have been locked, merged, or otherwise dealt with here on AW. HH apparently A small KBoard contingent apparently sent folks over from the Kboards (http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,178430.msg2515514.html#msg2515514) to post the link to his newest venture. (And here's a big thank-you to the Kboard mod, by the way, for trying to discourage the trolling.)

So we'll be monitoring these threads closely, since HH sending people here for the purposes of "stirring things up" is hardly new -- and not particularly welcome.

So let's DO be rather careful in terms of the tone and content of our posts about this, folks. My level of tolerance for blatant trolling from infrequent visitors (http://www.thepassivevoice.com/02/2014/new-author-earnings-report/#comment-168294) is going to be particularly low.

HH didn't "send" me or anybody else that I know of. I posted it here because I value people's opinion on this site, same as I value the opinion of the people over there. I don't see any problem with discussing it in both places. I don't think either group has a monopoly on wisdom and insight.

Williebee
02-13-2014, 12:39 AM
It doesn't take much time on any forum to understand that not every post is aimed at one person personally.

vrabinec
02-13-2014, 12:46 AM
It doesn't take much time on any forum to understand that not every post is aimed at one person personally.


Even if his initials are given? ;)

Williebee
02-13-2014, 12:48 AM
Are you suggesting that you are a sockpuppet?

vrabinec
02-13-2014, 12:51 AM
Huh? No. I'm saying my response was to a post that accused HH of 'sending' people over here to stir things up. That's an "accusation aimed at one person personally" Just thought it was funny.

Sheryl Nantus
02-13-2014, 12:54 AM
Tells me that some people have way too much free time on their hands.

If you're a writer, write.

Don't spend time trolling other boards or encouraging others to come here and cause trouble. Because then you're not writing, you're trolling.

But what the hell do I know?

I'm just a writer.

Little Ming
02-13-2014, 01:00 AM
Huh? No. I'm saying my response was to a post that accused HH of 'sending' people over here to stir things up. That's an "accusation aimed at one person personally" Just thought it was funny.

I think there's some miscommunication here.

The "one person personally" Mac is referring to is this thread that was locked (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=285238) because that person was trolling. (see Mac's second link in that post)

In other words, it's not about you (vrabinec). ;)

Williebee
02-13-2014, 01:00 AM
HH didn't "send" me or anybody else that I know of. I posted it here because I value people's opinion on this site, same as I value the opinion of the people over there. I don't see any problem with discussing it in both places. I don't think either group has a monopoly on wisdom and insight.

I don't think anyone has a monopoly on wisdom OR insight. The proselytism and declamation is where it goes wrong.

vrabinec
02-13-2014, 01:09 AM
I think there's some miscommunication here.

The "one person personally" Mac is referring to is this thread that was locked (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=285238) because that person was trolling. (see Mac's second link in that post)

In other words, it's not about you (vrabinec). ;)

Ah, missed that one. Though, I'm not sure how the "It doesn't take much time on a forum.." post is relevant to that thread.

Anyway, I'd love to see some hard data, same as everyone else. Not gonna hold my breath, though. Still, if the numbers in the article are right, I'm happy that many indies are making money. I root for all of us to make money, in whatever way suits us.

MacAllister
02-13-2014, 01:21 AM
HH didn't "send" me or anybody else that I know of. I posted it here because I value people's opinion on this site, same as I value the opinion of the people over there. I don't see any problem with discussing it in both places. I don't think either group has a monopoly on wisdom and insight.

If you're not here posting with the specific intention of "stirring things up" vrabinec, then my warning doesn't have anything to do with you -- so no worries.

And if we thought that WAS why you were here, this thread would have been locked already, too.

Now, that's more than enough of this particular derail, isn't it?

Miguelito
02-13-2014, 03:54 AM
I raised this point on the Author Earnings site as well as another site and am copying and pasting here. From the study:

“It turns out that 86% of the top 2,500 genre fiction bestsellers in the overall Amazon store are e-books. At the top of the charts, the dominance of e-books is even more extreme. 92% of the Top-100 best-selling books in these genres are e-books!”

That doesn’t seem to strike anybody as weird? 84% of the top 2500? 92% of the top 100? Jebus, that is a *huge* percentage of total book sales.

To look at that another way, if you take out audiobooks, that means only 12% of sales of the top 2500 are paper copies. Of the top 100, only 4% are paper copies. I know e-books have been continually increasing their share of the market, but paper only represents 12% of the top 2500 sellers and 4% of the top 100?

That doesn’t strike anybody as at least a tad unrealistic that so few paper copies would be sold anymore? Or much more than a tad unrealistic?

The alternative explanation is that Amazon’s ranking algorithm (a black box that everybody has tried to game but nobody has figured out) has pushed Amazon’s Kindle e-books much higher in the rankings than their sales would otherwise justify. This, of course, would lead to a significantly overweighted representation of Kindle e-books in this study.

Which would skew the results of the entire study.

I’m just having a really hard time believing this analysis as based on those book sales stats alone. To me, it indicates something is wrong with the underlying data.

ETA: in all the comments I've read, everybody just brushes this off and assumes that these e-book sales, therefore, have obviously cut incredibly deep into the paper market. Nobody even stops to contemplate that maybe it's Amazon's ranking algorithm boosting the ranking of their self-published books. Another way to look at the data is that, of the top 100 books, audiobooks are selling just as often as paper copies. How reasonable does that sound?

I don't know. Like everybody, I'd love more transparency. And I'm sure that Howey and his partner are very much interested in refining their methodology and I wish them the best of luck doing it. I just worry they're not getting an accurate sampling of actual sales, because all they're doing is sampling ranking and nobody really knows how Amazon does that.

Graeme
02-13-2014, 04:07 AM
And maybe I'm just too cynical, but I think the Amazon royalty rates will drop dramatically in the next couple of years, once Amazon gains the market share they're looking for. They're in it for the money - not for the writers, editors, publishers, etc. A book to them is just another item to sell, like a spatula or a duvet cover.

Remember that the whole origin of Amazon was a store for booklovers created by booklovers (Bezos). Amazon has always had a love affair with books, their first product. I genuinely think they care about readers and authors and not only about making a profit. They are making a ton of money as they are. I think they are smart enough not to mess with that winning formula. Obviously time will tell.

RichardGarfinkle
02-13-2014, 04:11 AM
I have a basic problem with this entire report. Here is the description from the link in the OP of the methodology by which the data were obtained.


This data provided one piece of a complex puzzle. The rest of the puzzle hit my inbox with a mighty thud last week. I received an email from an author with advanced coding skills who had created a software program that can crawl online bestseller lists and grab mountains of data. All of this data is publicóitís online for anyone to seeóbut until now itís been extremely difficult to gather, aggregate, and organize. This program, however, is able to do in a day what would take hundreds of volunteers with web browsers and pencils a week to accomplish. The first run grabbed data on nearly 7,000 e-books from several bestselling genre categories on Amazon. Subsequent runs have looked at data for 50,000 titles across all genres. You can ask this data some pretty amazing questions, questions Iíve been asking for well over a year [link]. And now we finally have some answers.

This essentially says that a piece of software we have not seen crawled through a lot of data we do not have access to, organized by Amazon's deliberately obfuscatory system. There is simply no way, in a situation like this to evaluate the conclusions drawn, because we know next to nothing about the data from which those conclusions were drawn.

DoNoKharms
02-13-2014, 04:13 AM
Jebus, that is a *huge* percentage of total book sales.


Of total book sales on Amazon. Which doesn't diminish the figure's significance, but is still an important qualifier. A poster on Chuck Wendig's site pointed out that per Amazon print sales, SAT prep books outsell print sales of Divergent. That doesn't mean people aren't buying print copies of Divergent, just that they're not buying them through Amazon.



ETA: in all the comments I've read, everybody just brushes this off and assumes that these e-book sales, therefore, have obviously cut incredibly deep into the paper market.


I don't think it necessarily means that even if the data is accurate. It is just as easily explained by the possibility that there was a significant audience for low-cost e-books that the print market wasn't satisfying. Again, all the conclusions this report draws seem to hinge on the idea that there is this finite market for both trade and e-book sales, and that a rise in one signifies a decline in the other. I just don't think that's the case.

Graeme
02-13-2014, 04:15 AM
This essentially says that a piece of software we have not seen crawled through a lot of data we do not have access to, organized by Amazon's deliberately obfuscatory system.

It is indeed very easy to interpret data with a bias, either intentionally or accidentally. We do however have access to the raw data. Anyone could replicate those findings. We have known for a long time through empirical evidence exactly how many sales represent a certain book rank. That is a fact. We know the book price so we know the royalty share. The data is all there on the page. The question still remains, has it been interpreted correctly?

KMTolan
02-13-2014, 04:16 AM
I genuinely think they care about readers and authors and not only about making a profit. My publisher, a small press, would probably beg to differ as Amazon changed the pricing on trade paperbacks (if not using their service) to the point where selling the paperbacks on Amazon was no longer profitable. Amazon is not nor never was the author's friend, anymore than any business entity out there. My opinion. Kerry

Miguelito
02-13-2014, 04:20 AM
Of total book sales on Amazon. Which doesn't diminish the figure's significance, but is still an important qualifier. A poster on Chuck Wendig's site pointed out that per Amazon print sales, SAT prep books outsell print sales of Divergent. That doesn't mean people aren't buying print copies of Divergent, just that they're not buying them through Amazon.



I don't think it necessarily means that even if the data is accurate. It is just as easily explained by the possibility that there was a significant audience for low-cost e-books that the print market wasn't satisfying. Again, all the conclusions this report draws seem to hinge on the idea that there is this finite market for both trade and e-book sales, and that a rise in one signifies a decline in the other. I just don't think that's the case.


Oh, I completely agree that it's a measure of Amazon's customers (of which I'm one), not the market as a whole. I'm just having a hard time accepting that Amazon's customer base is so lopsided to one form of the medium. But I'm always willing to be proven wrong.

ShaunHorton
02-13-2014, 04:32 AM
Cynically, this sounds too good to be true for the pro-self-publishing crowd. I honestly would not be surprised if we find out down the road that numbers were fudged, or just plain wrong.

On a personal level though, I have no reason to doubt the numbers. I personally bought about 25 books last year, only one of which was not an ebook. I couldn't tell you the ratio of self-published, to indie, to Big 5 books though.

Graeme
02-13-2014, 04:41 AM
We know that Amazon is the world's largest retailer of books. Exactly what percentage of the market is has is up for debate. I am willing to bet that Amazon's sales are very skewed to ebook when you are looking at bestsellers, which the data was. I am sure that most non-ebook readers buy bestsellers at the airport, or grocery store, or all the other places you see all the big names.

We really need data from everywhere.

Miguelito
02-13-2014, 04:44 AM
Cynically, this sounds too good to be true for the pro-self-publishing crowd. I honestly would not be surprised if we find out down the road that numbers were fudged, or just plain wrong.

On a personal level though, I have no reason to doubt the numbers. I personally bought about 25 books last year, only one of which was not an ebook. I couldn't tell you the ratio of self-published, to indie, to Big 5 books though.

Doubtful they were fudged. There's actually a large database that backs up their conclusions.

DoNoKharms
02-13-2014, 04:48 AM
We know that Amazon is the world's largest retailer of books. Exactly what percentage of the market is has is up for debate. I am willing to bet that Amazon's sales are very skewed to ebook when you are looking at bestsellers, which the data was. I am sure that most non-ebook readers buy bestsellers at the airport, or grocery store, or all the other places you see all the big names.

We really need data from everywhere.

Exactly. And if the topic at hand is "should new authors consider self or trade publishing", solely looking at Amazon ebook sales is just looking at a misleading slice of the whole pie. The necessary comparative information is "For successful trade pub authors, what portion of their revenue is derived from Amazon sales as opposed to everything else (print, media rights, etc.". Without that, you're comparing apples to fruit aisles.

Miguelito
02-13-2014, 05:02 AM
We know that Amazon is the world's largest retailer of books. Exactly what percentage of the market is has is up for debate. I am willing to bet that Amazon's sales are very skewed to ebook when you are looking at bestsellers, which the data was. I am sure that most non-ebook readers buy bestsellers at the airport, or grocery store, or all the other places you see all the big names.

We really need data from everywhere.
To be fair, I get my non-ebooks from Amazon. :tongue

Graeme
02-13-2014, 05:05 AM
To be fair, I get my non-ebooks from Amazon. :tongue

So do I. I buy every book, paper or ebook, from Amazon, but I wonder how many bestselling paper books are bought on impulse at physical points of sale, e.g. airports.

vrabinec
02-13-2014, 07:42 AM
To be fair, I get my non-ebooks from Amazon. :tongue

I get mine at B&N

juniper
02-13-2014, 10:17 AM
So do I. I buy every book, paper or ebook, from Amazon,

Why? I only buy used text books there. And the last time for that, I found a better used one at the local big bookstore.

(I am lucky to live close to a very big independent bookstore)

Do you not like bookstores?

slhuang
02-13-2014, 11:32 AM
Note because I know non-AWers are checking out this thread: I am very pro-self-publishing, I am choosing to self-publish my debut novel myself, and I think self-publishing is all that and the cat's meow. But I also think good trade publishers are awesome, and that the right choice will be very individual to each author and his or her book, and I feel very, very strongly about authors being well-informed about the choices.

----------------------------------------

Edits: The unreliability of the sources I posted in one part were pointed out downthread. Also, I realized upon rereading that I elided some of the mathematical language in this post. I'm sure it's already clear what I meant, but I'm footnoting anyway because I'm pedantic with myself like that.

----------------------------------------

Before the other thread got locked, some people asked me why I thought the math/logic in this report was so poor. I really don't have a lot of time to spend on this so I'll just highlight a few things.

First, I'm highly skeptical that they've managed to crack Amazons ranking -> sales function (how many sales a given Amazon ranking equals). My own research suggests that this often fluctuates wildly and may be skewed towards eBooks as Amazon has a vested interest in pushing Kindle products above paper books. Amazon keeps this algorithm a closely guarded secret. Because of this, I'm highly skeptical of the raw data the study is based on.

Even if we accept the raw data as accurate, a quick (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/e-retailers-now-accounting-for-nearly-half-of-book-purchases-by-volume/) Google search (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/is-amazon-invincible/) tells me that online sales (not ebook sales, online sales of any type) account for less than half of all book sales in the U.S. (as of 2012) and that Amazon accounts for half of all online sales (as of 2013). [edit: The unreliability of these sources was pointed out downthread. See footnote #1. In general, take this point to be a point about Amazon being a portion of the market to a degree we just don't know (unless someone can direct me to better sources!)] This means that even rounding up generously Amazon accounts for only a quarter forty percent(?) of books sales in the U.S.. Now, this is not quite a fair comparison, as it appears this applies to all book sales and not just genre book sales, but although I can't make the conclusion that genre sales aren't concentrated at Amazon, I think it's also fallacious to assume that they are without more information. If genre sales are distributed evenly across sales channels, these data are only 25% (40%? Not the whole portion, in any case) of the picture.

And it's the 25% (40%?) of the market in which self-publishers tend to make the majority of their sales. I don't think it's controversial (unless someone corrects me) to say that it's far more likely that the other 75% (60%?) of the market is skewed toward trade published books, particularly the more than 50% of book sales that are still made off line. Looking at 25% (or 40%, or whatever it might be) of the market might be interesting, but I don't think it provides nearly enough of a picture to extrapolate the rest of it.

More significantly, however, the data are only from 7,000 books on the best seller lists. There are at least 12 million (https://kdp.amazon.com/community/thread.jspa?threadID=101569) books on Amazon. That means we're looking at five hundredths of one percent of the books there -- and since they're from best seller lists, we're looking at .05% of the top books.

Why is this significant? Because we're only looking at data from books that are already doing well, which tells us nothing about how likely a particular method of publishing is to get it there.

Assuming the raw data are correct -- which show roughly half of these 7,000 books as being self-published and roughly half being trade published -- I think the only conclusion that can be drawn here is that it's possible for self-published books to do well within Amazon's marketplace. Which is nice (yay choices!), and might have been big news a decade ago, but I think anybody who doubted that it was possible for self-published books to do quite well hasn't been reading much about publishing lately.

But saying something is possible does not say anything either way about the likelihood. And looking at people who have succeeded at X after the fact does not tell you anything about what to do to achieve X unless you also know the breakdowns of people who do not achieve X. For instance, if you look at a bunch of lottery winners and see that (say) 75% of them were poor before winning (I'm making this up), it does not help your chances to give away all your money, because you're ignoring that it might be true that 75% or more of lottery tickets are bought by lower income brackets. If a poor person and a rich person each by a ticket, they're equally likely to win; the poor person does not have a 75% chance.[2] And you wouldn't know this from looking at just the winners; you'd have to look at the breakdowns of both winners and nonwinners and see that both had breakdowns of 75% poor people and thus the state of being poor gave no actual advantage in the lottery.

How does this relate here? Well, this link (http://www.chipmacgregor.com/questions-from-beginners/self-publishing-amway/) (which is well-worth reading; thanks AWer Gravity!) suggests 8 million of those 12 million Amazon books are self-published. If all books are equal (which they're not, but just as a demonstration), and half the 7,000 top sellers on Amazon are self-published, you have a .04% chance of selling that well if you self-publish but a .09% chance of selling that well if you trade publish[3] -- twice as high. Of course, both percentages are ludicrously small, and don't mean much at all for two reasons: (1) the far more interesting question for aspiring authors is not how to become a best seller, which is quite an achievement in either category, but which avenue is the best business decision for that particular book, and (2) all books are not created equal. #2 suggests that the higher probability of trade published books becoming best sellers means that trade published books on average are either more popular or have better marketability or both, which I don't think is terribly surprising, since self-published books have a much longer tail of poor quality that trade published books do not (note that this says nothing about the comparability of the top self-published books to the top trade published books, only the averages), but other than that I don't feel like there are really any useful conclusions to draw here. What we really want to know is, for us likely-to-be-non-bestsellers, what is the better path to choose? And these data simply don't give us any information on that, unfortunately.

The earnings conclusions strike me as equally skewed. First of all, we have the same problem here, in that we're looking at books that have already been successful. If we condition on a book being successful, of course it's going to have higher royalties on Amazon if it's self-published. Because you get higher royalties for that. But it's ludicrous to condition on a book being successful when trying to make business decisions! We don't want to know which would make us more money assuming we can magically make our books sell brilliantly; we want to know which path will make our books sell better in the first place. A lot of trade published books would not make the sales they do without the support of a trade publisher, so it doesn't make any sense to say a trade-published book selling X copies would make more self-publishing because it would still sell X copies at higher royalties, since it's quite possible it would sell far fewer than X. How to publish is a very personal per-book/per-author decision, I think, and would involve a lot of factors no study can tell a person.

Regarding earnings, it's been mentioned elsewhere (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/02/11/very-very-very-early-thoughts-on-new-author-earnings-report/) that there are potentially quite a few pieces of trade published earnings that aren't taken into account by looking at Amazon sales (plus there's that other 75% (60%?) of the market), whereas it's far more likely that we're looking at the majority of a self-publisher's earnings when we look at sales on Amazon. Stacking the majority of a successful self-publisher's income against a portion of a successful trade publisher's income does not strike me as terribly useful data. Additionally, the numbers make no accounting for the start-up costs a self-publisher incurs. The reason royalties are lower when one trade publishes is that the trade publisher is making a substantial financial investment and needs to earn that money back (hopefully with some profit, as the publisher is a business partner). When a self-publisher publishes, she receives higher royalties, but these royalties must also pay back whatever initial investment she made in cover art, editing, time spent marketing, etc.. This is not accounted for.

I've seen Howey repeat the idea several times that it's better to self-publish because if you're successful, you'll earn more, and if you're less successful or unsuccessful, well, the trade publishers wouldn't have taken you anyway. One of the main reasons this bothers me intensely is that it completely discounts the impact a trade publisher has in whether a book is successful or not. There are few manuscripts that trade publishers put out exactly as they are submitted; the creative support of trade publishers can substantially improve the creative content of a book. The trade publishing process may involve a more professional presentation than the self-publisher can afford. And the trade publisher may be able to put a marketing and distribution push behind the book that the self-publisher does not have access to. IMHO, it's disingenuous to imply that a book will always have the same chances whether one self- or trade publishes and thus one should opt for the higher royalty rate. It also ignores the fact that serious self-publishers are often looking at a substantial financial investment before earning money back, and therefore are taking a large financial risk -- it's entirely possible for a less successful or unsuccessful self-published author to end up in the red, which would not happen if the author opted for trade publishing, regardless of how well the book did. One thing publishers do is assume that risk.

I'm not trying to suggest that these circumstances are always true, just that it's substantially more complicated than, "it's always better to self-publish because if you're successful you'll make more and if you're not you wouldn't have been published anyway so everything is gravy" (paraphrased). Self- versus trade is a complicated decision, with risks involved no matter which way you go.

There are other statistical issues I see with the article -- the extrapolation, many of the other incidental conclusions drawn, etc. -- but I've spent far too long on this already. So there are some broad strokes. :)

The tl;dr version: In my opinion, the data tell us little other than that it's possible for self-published books to compete quite well in the Amazon marketplace, which I venture to say we already knew. I don't see any conclusions that can be drawn about which path is better or more lucrative for a particular aspiring author and his book. I'm not saying that the data contradict self-publishing as the best choice: they just don't tell us anything either way, other than that self-publishing is a viable choice. Which, again, I think we knew already. :) (But maybe that'll be useful to someone!)

----------------------------------------

Final note: I know next to nothing about publishing. But I do know a lot of math. I'm not trying to say here that anyone's beliefs about self- or trade publishing are right or wrong, only that I don't see the data supporting anyone's beliefs either way. There's just not a complete enough picture. I recognize that it may be next to impossible ever to get a complete enough picture -- I'd dearly like one just as much as everyone else would -- but looking at a lot of data doesn't mean that one is looking at enough data, no matter how cool it would be (and it would!) to get some substantive numbers.

Footnotes:

[1] If anyone can find better sources, feel free to point me. Like I said, publishing is not my area of expertise, only math on existing data! ;) I've edited the post to read "maybe 40%" in the sense that we might make a wild-ass guess that Amazon sells as many self-published books as it does trade published ones, since roughly half the 7,000 data points in the survey were self-published and roughly half were trade published. This half-and-half idea is not actually a conclusion we can draw from this, or at least I don't see the math to do it, but calling it half-and-half is consistent with the data. If Amazon sells 100% again as many books that are self-published as it does ISBN-listed trade published books, that would give it roughly 40% of the market instead of 25%. Eeeexcept not necessarily, because if we're adjusting Amazon, don't we have to adjust other retailers? I note that though these adjustments would give Amazon a smaller market share, they would increase the market share of self-publishers in the non-Amazon portion, since SPed books are the ones perhaps not being counted when people calculate market share. So what does this all mean? I feel reasonably confident in saying WE DON'T KNOW. Which was basically my point with this whole post. We just don't know enough to say . . . anything! (I'm happy if someone else can come along with math I didn't see how to apply and find something, but I can't see any conclusions to be drawn here.)

[2] This should have more properly read, "The poor person does not have three times the probability of the rich person of winning." Ironically, I think it's probably more intuitively understandable to non-math people as it's written, and math people almost certainly knew what I meant, but like I said, I'm pedantic about these things.

[3] These percentages are not actually the random chances of something in 4 or 8 million landing on a certain 7,000 list, since the 7,000 list in question changes over time, so will encompass more than 7,000 books. But as noted there are a lot bigger problems with trying to use numbers here, and I was more doing that for demonstration purposes. Note also here that just the fact that the data give us a roughly half-and-half breakdown but there may be twice as many SPed books on Amazon as trade published means that someone could use these same data to say that you're twice as likely to sell to any given level if you trade publish. This argument would be wrong, of course, for all the same problems listed in this paragraph, but it's an example of people being able to use numbers to suit any purpose they want as long as they twist them the right way. As I said in the post, as far as I can tell, these data don't support self-publishing or trade publishing over the other; they just don't really tell us anything.

Putputt
02-13-2014, 01:30 PM
More significantly, however, the data are only from 7,000 books on the best seller lists. There are at least 12 million (https://kdp.amazon.com/community/thread.jspa?threadID=101569) books on Amazon. That means we're looking at five hundredths of one percent of the books there -- and since they're from best seller lists, we're looking at .05% of the top books.

Why is this significant? Because we're only looking at data from books that are already doing well, which tells us nothing about how likely a particular method of publishing is to get it there.



*stickies this to my forehead*

Torgo
02-13-2014, 02:07 PM
Here's Steve Mosby with some thoughts. (http://www.theleftroom.co.uk/?p=2241)


what bothers me most, even more than the importance of sales and money over quality, is an implied argument that I see again and again – that the experiment of publishing a book can be repeated with hindsight. “Look at your sales figures! If you’d self-published, you’d have earned x% more!”

The reality is that publishing anything is a unique path. If you have a book, and you’re trying to decide whether to self- or traditionally-publish, there is only the apparition of help for you in these figures. It might be that you traditionally-publish and sell 100 copies, and would financially have been better off self-publishing. It may be that you sell a million copies through traditional publishing. That doesn’t mean that you’ve left money on the table simply because those million sales if self-published would have netted you more. You can’t say what might have happened had you chosen a different route – whether you would have got those 100 or those million sales or something different.

vrabinec
02-13-2014, 05:00 PM
Interesting rebuttal from Digital Book World that brings up some of the questions about the methodology. I think the conclusion that there are many pathways is one that most people are starting to share.

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/analyzing-the-author-earnings-data-using-basic-analytics/

RemusShepherd
02-13-2014, 06:54 PM
To me, the most eye-opening chart on Howey's site is the last one that plots average number of books per author by income. All the best-sellers average between 2 and 5 books.

Almost all proponents of self-publishing are advising authors to write as many books as possible, because each book acts as advertising for the rest of the books by that author. Hockings released 17 books at once, Locke did 23 in 3 years, and even Howey split his two-novel series into nine installments to leverage the multi-book effect.

But Howey's data is showing that the self-publishing gurus are wrong about that one thing. You can be very successful with only 2-5 books. That's a manageable goal. It also makes self-publishing success look like traditional publishing success and less like a marketing trick. Very interesting.

Torgo
02-13-2014, 07:11 PM
Interesting rebuttal from Digital Book World that brings up some of the questions about the methodology. I think the conclusion that there are many pathways is one that most people are starting to share.

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/analyzing-the-author-earnings-data-using-basic-analytics/

Thanks for that - yes, very interesting. I agree the most sensible conclusion seems to be 'different strokes for different folks'.

Cyia
02-13-2014, 07:26 PM
Why? I only buy used text books there. And the last time for that, I found a better used one at the local big bookstore.

(I am lucky to live close to a very big independent bookstore)

Do you not like bookstores?

I love bookstores, but there are none in my town. The only library is in the high school. Until the half-price books (one town over)opened last year, the only bookstore in a 30-40 mile radius was the coffee shop store attached to a small university that sold text books and inspirational fiction.

Amazon's a lifeline when you're truly rural.

slhuang
02-13-2014, 08:20 PM
Thanks Torgo and vrabinec for the links! Another AW'er linked me this post by a literary agent (http://brilligblogger.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-missionary-impulse.html).

Hoplite
02-13-2014, 09:12 PM
More significantly, however, the data are only from 7,000 books on the best seller lists. There are at least 12 million (https://kdp.amazon.com/community/thread.jspa?threadID=101569) books on Amazon. That means we're looking at five hundredths of one percent of the books there -- and since they're from best seller lists, we're looking at .05% of the top books.

Why is this significant? Because we're only looking at data from books that are already doing well, which tells us nothing about how likely a particular method of publishing is to get it there.

*Standing applause*


I get mine at B&N

I like local used-bookstores. I've always felt uncomfortable about buying e-books (what do I do if in 10 years Amazon goes belly up?).

Perks
02-13-2014, 10:00 PM
Joshua Bilmes analyzes the concept and data here (http://brilligblogger.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-missionary-impulse.html).

I thought this was sort of interesting:


The article then jumps from there to saying that the better average reviews for books priced less expensively suggests that readers are grading on a curve and perhaps giving better reviews to cheaper books from self-published authors because e-book prices are too high.

There is a logical fallacy here. One second, it says Amazon reviews are reliable. The next second, it says Amazon reviews are graded on a curve where readers are more inclined to be generous to books that offer better value. A reliable review shouldn't be given on a curve. It shouldn't have the moral relativism of a politician that likes filibustering judges until either the majority party in the Senate or the party affiliation of the President changes, when all of a sudden night is day and day is night. The logic is circular, fallacious or both.

DoNoKharms
02-13-2014, 11:30 PM
There's one other thing about the report that bothers me, but I don't have the data to know if it's accurate. It extrapolates a year's earning from two days in January. Now, in the digital media field I work in (mobile gaming), you'd never do this because January sales are incredibly inflated: the amount of people who get gift cards and new devices for the holidays results in a short but massive boom. If I extrapolated a year's revenue from those days in January for my app, I'd end up with a figure that's about 5x off the mark.

I don't know if ebook sales have the same magnitude of January spikes, but I imagine they have at least some inflation, right? Anecdotally, one of the first thing I did after getting an iPad this Christmas was purchase several ebooks. Can anyone here speak to ebook sale spikes in January?

Old Hack
02-14-2014, 12:12 AM
I'm pretty sure Christmas Kindles inspire a spike in e-book sales in January, but I can't find any data to support that right now. It does seem a safe bet to me, though, that that would happen.

Ava Glass
02-14-2014, 02:10 AM
Even if we accept the raw data as accurate, a quick (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/e-retailers-now-accounting-for-nearly-half-of-book-purchases-by-volume/) Google search (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/is-amazon-invincible/) tells me that online sales (not ebook sales, online sales of any type) account for less than half of all book sales in the U.S. (as of 2012) and that Amazon accounts for half of all online sales (as of 2013).

I'm not sure those two links give an accurate picture. The first is by Bowker. Don't they rely on ISBN's? Most self-pubbers don't use them.

The second link's data source is discussed in the post's comments:


the source is “of the record” interviews with a couple of publishers large and small (somewhat of a UK bias though)
the question was always “How much of your revenue across print books, ebooks and audio books is accounted for by Amazon?”
the answers ranged from 50% to near 70%
when asking self-published authors the answer would often be: >90%

jjdebenedictis
02-14-2014, 03:57 AM
Don't they rely on ISBN's? Most self-pubbers don't use them.
Really?! I thought books had to have an ISBN to get on Amazon and Smashwords. Of course, I am not anywhere near to being an expert on the matter...

Ava Glass
02-14-2014, 04:20 AM
Really?! I thought books had to have an ISBN to get on Amazon and Smashwords. Of course, I am not anywhere near to being an expert on the matter...

Amazon uses ASINs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Standard_Identification_Number

Smashwords assigns books an ISBN, but it can only be used with the "Smashwords edition," meaning if the book is also being sold directly on Amazon, it can't use Smashwords' ISBN.

Apple used to require an ISBN, but no longer.

slhuang
02-14-2014, 05:59 AM
I'm not sure those two links give an accurate picture. The first is by Bowker. Don't they rely on ISBN's? Most self-pubbers don't use them.

The second link's data source is discussed in the post's comments:

Oh, thank you, Ava! Really appreciate you pointing that out!

I'll do some closer reading of those sources when I get home tonight and revise my post. At a quick mental estimate (VERY rough) I'm guessing this might mean the Amazon pie could end up more like 40% instead of 25%. I'll see what I can find when I get home in terms of better numbers regarding Amazon's market share.

I suspect the point about it still only being a portion of the market (and the other portion likely being dominated by trade publishers) will still stand, though. :)

Dave.C.Robinson
02-14-2014, 08:02 AM
I see most of my points have already been made. I like the idea of self-publishing success, but all this report says is that the top fraction of a percent in sales are successful, and in my opinion there's no point even trying a business where that isn't the case.

As to what's best for the average person with a manuscript, while there's really no such person, and no way to tell if there was - the only even rough model would require knowing how manuscripts are submitted to agents and how many books are self-published (and the overlap).

The information really isn't out there at all.

DonnaDuck
02-14-2014, 10:51 PM
I didn't read Howey's original findings, however I did read the DBW analysis of it and it really didn't show me anything I didn't already know: people are going to do whatever they want with numbers as long as it serves their purpose. I love me some raw data. I eat it with chopsticks. But people like "data" that supports their already staunch opinions. You can make numbers say anything you want. Breeds and dog bites is a big one. Do pit bulls have the highest mortality rate for dog bites? They sure do. But when you look at the raw data you'd see fatal dog bites account for less than 1% of all dog bites and people should be more leery of Daschunds. Guns are the same way. Do they kill a lot of people? They sure do. More than 30,000 a year. What else also kills that many people and more? Cars. And heart attacks. And poison. Raw data can absolutely support what you're saying and when broken down to its base parts it's all true. But when you nip here and tug there it's very easy to take a number that actually meant one thing in greater context and distort it to make it mean something completely different. The last thing I'm going to trust is findings about publishing from someone with such an obvious agenda.

It does make me wonder what his agent and trade publisher thinks about his rallying for self-publishing and damning the man. You'd think it'd be somewhat of a conflict of interest, talking out of both sides of one's mouth. And why such a vested interest in Amazon? There are other avenues of self-publishing. Is it because that's where he published? Because Amazon is a "formidable" presence in the self-publishing industry?

J. Tanner
02-15-2014, 12:20 AM
At a quick mental estimate (VERY rough) I'm guessing this might mean the Amazon pie could end up more like 40% instead of 25%. I'll see what I can find when I get home in terms of better numbers regarding Amazon's market share.

40%ish rings bells from my memory of past articles from trade publishing. And you can sort of do that big-picture math and get a sense of the basic argument: 70% of 40% is still more than 15% of 100% of the market. This oversimplifies huge swaths of relevant concerns for any individual deciding on a future path, but I can see that very basic argument. (But that's always seemed like such a non-argument to me--99% of writers have only one choice if they are going to publish and that method has thankfully become much more accepted, professional, and financially viable in recent years. Much of the other 1% will be unswayed in their devotion to one choice, or using both options based on the specifics of the project. Is that remaining sliver of the 1% worth the time, effort and vitriol?)

I can also see in the very basic shape of the data that "success" in the three genres is split fairly evenly between trade and self-pub authors and readers are not distinguishing much either way in the perceived quality of those books through the very limited metric of customer reviews. (The former surprises me a bit that self-publishing is such a large portion, the latter seems like common sense.)

Beyond that, I think a lot of the sweeping statements in Hugh's commentary about the data stretch that data well past its breaking point. You outlined a lot of the stretching in your earlier post so no reason to restate.

gingerwoman
02-15-2014, 03:45 AM
Let me get this straight:
The author of the article states that past data compiled by big publishing houses is flawed, largely in part due to that companies like Barnes & Noble and Amazon don't release sales data. The author then decides to use anecdotal evidence, personal experience, and the experience that others have chosen to share, and presents it as authentic....
No I think he has been quite honest about the flaws, and has asked people to send him more data on their sales so he can improve the study.

RedWombat
02-16-2014, 09:46 PM
Another statistical analysis over at Dear Author--I am not a mathematician, so I cannot speak to the accuracy thereof.

http://dearauthor.com/ebooks/how-not-to-lie-with-statistics/

The whole thing reminds me, personally, of climate change data in my state (and this is not meant to inflame THAT particular argument, but it's the best corollary I can lay hands on at the moment. Bear with me a minute.)

Our state's climate office makes no bones about the fact that much of the global data indicates the world's getting hotter. They provide some very nice graphs about it and generally fall in line with the overall scientific consensus as to causes and whatnot. (Which, again, I will not be debating here.)

Then they provide our state's, and say, bluntly, "There is too large a signal-to-noise ratio in our state. Our weather is too variable and we have too short a range of measurements." They literally do not have good enough data to do good math at it. They can extrapolate ONE thing about minimum temps in urban areas, everything else is lost in noise.

And if this is true (and of course, when going with governmental things, we must suspect politics, but I have no reason to suspect this data, in light of other things not worth getting into here) I respect that. It would be patently absurd to think that our state is somehow exempt from what's going on in the rest of the world, (a fact they freely admit) but when you are playing with data, you need a LOT of it and you need the right kind and our weather here is extraordinarily erratic and our record-keeping unusually short. (We have no reliable measurements pre-1800 in this case, and no geography that lends itself to ice-cores and whatnot.)

It is perfectly okay to admit "It seems very likely that this is going to be the overall trend, but we just do not have the numbers to prove it."

BUT! This is, of course, an emotional issue, and if people with either money or emotion on the line get hands on this stuff, they will try to make it say things that it does not actually say. They will hold the graphs to the fire and demand them to say that nothing is happening, or that everything is happening.

With the best, or worst, of intentions.

Now, back from that particular abyss there, to the other abyss at hand.

I think self-publishing is great at what it's great at, and trade publishing is great at what it's great at.

I think there may well be data somewhere from which we can extrapolate what those particular things are.

I don't think this particular report has it.

Our sales are erratic and our record-keeping is short.

and finally:

I think people whose jobs are to make up really good stories are maybe not the best people to analyze math, unless they have been trained to do so. Because it's really easy to make up a good story on the bones of something that just won't support it.

Liosse de Velishaf
02-16-2014, 10:00 PM
No I think he has been quite honest about the flaws, and has asked people to send him more data on their sales so he can improve the study.

If he knows the problems, why did he publish is as a "study"? What's the point, except to confuse people?


The wording of the report implies strongly that with the crawler-aggregated data, they can make some reasonable claims, and I'm not sure that's true.

Having a few paragraphs in the actual report about previous difficulty getting data is easily outweighed in many reader's minds by the ten times as much article space of fancy looking graphs and charts with footnotes talking about all the conclusions to be gleaned from the data.

slhuang
02-17-2014, 05:55 AM
Courtney Milan (a very successful self-publisher, for those who don't know) has weighed in with a lot of sense (http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2014/02/16/some-thoughts-on-author-earnings/):


The biggest failure, in my mind, of the author earnings report was its failure to try to figure out how and when it was wrong.

[...]

This doesn’t mean I think the methodology is useless. But I think that until the study authors start really talking about sources of error, and finding ways to quantify those errors, the study isn’t going to be much use to anyone except people who already believe it. If you can’t tell me how wrong you are, you haven’t taken the effort to figure out how right you are.

Determining how wrong you are is what makes your work believable.

[...]

In short, I think someone using similar methodologies could, if careful, make reasonable, cautious statements, that would have some value. But they’d have to be damned clear about how they’re calculating unit sales, would have to aggregate sufficient data so that they had an error estimate in their calculation, would have to poll for lengthy periods of time, and would have to test their results against actual data to see how the model (and this is a model of earnings, not data about earnings) corresponds with reality.
I highly recommend reading the whole thing. Milan clearly knows what she's talking about with regard to data analysis. She also goes through and compares her own books' earnings to the study, seeing how well Howey's model reflects reality (and finding some somewhat troubling discrepancies in the raw data itself).

I think Milan's post is also an excellent example of how reasonably these data could have entered the writer/publisher discourse, if they hadn't been served up with a helping of evangelism masquerading as conclusions. I think the report would have garnered much more respectful interest if it had not tried so hard to push preconceived claims the data didn't support. If Howey had come out and said, "Hey, look at this, it's interesting; here are the limitations of these data but let's talk about them," I think he would have gotten a far more positive response. Instead, people are (rightly) taking apart the editorial drum-beating as unscientific and not actually conclusions one can reach, and it's only serving to build up the "us vs. them" adversarial mentality instead of inviting a "hey, is there anything we can learn from this spreadsheet? If so, what?" discussion.

The way it's presented has its flawed methodology being deconstructed and (some) SPers claiming the criticism is only to "discredit" self-publishing or because trade publishers are "scared." Whom does that type of rhetoric serve? (Not to mention we're criticizing based on science; science doesn't take sides!) And personally, I find the misleading nature of the report more of a detriment to the conversation than can be made up for by anything we have actually been able to learn from the raw data (considering that the report is adding such a very bad load of misinformation to the discussion space and that the raw data so far tell us so very little). Something that could have been a positive addition to the information out there has instead been framed in a way that only serves to cloud the existing knowledge with obfuscation and agendas.

It gives me a sads. :(

Sheryl Nantus
02-17-2014, 09:37 PM
Just bumping this because the thread has about 60+ replies to it and is VERY interesting.

An excellent read, IMO.


Another statistical analysis over at Dear Author--I am not a mathematician, so I cannot speak to the accuracy thereof.

http://dearauthor.com/ebooks/how-not-to-lie-with-statistics/

The whole thing reminds me, personally, of climate change data in my state (and this is not meant to inflame THAT particular argument, but it's the best corollary I can lay hands on at the moment. Bear with me a minute.)

Our state's climate office makes no bones about the fact that much of the global data indicates the world's getting hotter. They provide some very nice graphs about it and generally fall in line with the overall scientific consensus as to causes and whatnot. (Which, again, I will not be debating here.)

Then they provide our state's, and say, bluntly, "There is too large a signal-to-noise ratio in our state. Our weather is too variable and we have too short a range of measurements." They literally do not have good enough data to do good math at it. They can extrapolate ONE thing about minimum temps in urban areas, everything else is lost in noise.

And if this is true (and of course, when going with governmental things, we must suspect politics, but I have no reason to suspect this data, in light of other things not worth getting into here) I respect that. It would be patently absurd to think that our state is somehow exempt from what's going on in the rest of the world, (a fact they freely admit) but when you are playing with data, you need a LOT of it and you need the right kind and our weather here is extraordinarily erratic and our record-keeping unusually short. (We have no reliable measurements pre-1800 in this case, and no geography that lends itself to ice-cores and whatnot.)

It is perfectly okay to admit "It seems very likely that this is going to be the overall trend, but we just do not have the numbers to prove it."

BUT! This is, of course, an emotional issue, and if people with either money or emotion on the line get hands on this stuff, they will try to make it say things that it does not actually say. They will hold the graphs to the fire and demand them to say that nothing is happening, or that everything is happening.

With the best, or worst, of intentions.

Now, back from that particular abyss there, to the other abyss at hand.

I think self-publishing is great at what it's great at, and trade publishing is great at what it's great at.

I think there may well be data somewhere from which we can extrapolate what those particular things are.

I don't think this particular report has it.

Our sales are erratic and our record-keeping is short.

and finally:

I think people whose jobs are to make up really good stories are maybe not the best people to analyze math, unless they have been trained to do so. Because it's really easy to make up a good story on the bones of something that just won't support it.

bearilou
02-19-2014, 02:21 AM
Just bumping this because the thread has about 60+ replies to it and is VERY interesting.

An excellent read, IMO.

I love that someone used a Yes, Prime Minster clip to illustrate a point in the comments.

/derail and geeky moment and probably missing the point.

DonnaDuck
02-20-2014, 10:43 PM
Mark Coker of Smashwords weighs in. (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/61116-hugh-howey-and-the-indie-author-revolt.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=c39cd9288f-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-c39cd9288f-304511717)


As more and more indies achieve commercial success on their own terms, the stigma of self-publishing is evaporating. Indie authors have become the cool kids club. It’s a movement where its members self-identify as indie. It’s a worldwide cultural movement among writers. Indies are regularly hitting all of the most prestigious retailers and news media bestseller lists. Many indies have turned their backs on traditional publishers.

Indie authors realize there’s little a publisher can do for them that they can’t already do for themselves. They can assemble their own team of professionals to handle editing, cover design and marketing.

Indie authors enjoy faster time to market, democratized distribution to every major retailer, total creative freedom, total control over production, pricing and promotion, 4-5 times greater royalty percentages, and the ability to use low and ultra-low prices to build readership and revenues faster than traditionally published authors.

Traditionally published authors are watching their rebel brethren with an envious eye.

It's right about there I start backing away. He makes some valid points but he doesn't put what he's saying into any context (the cost to SP authors, the actual chances of earning that money back and then actually reaching "commercial success," however that's defined) and it's mired in this "ur totes jelly" attitude throughout the article. I feel like I need a tinfoil hat or something. This article left a grimy film on my skin.

evilrooster
02-21-2014, 01:02 AM
I feel like I need a tinfoil hat or something. This article left a grimy film on my skin.

:foilhat:?

Liosse de Velishaf
02-21-2014, 01:19 AM
Mark Coker of Smashwords weighs in. (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/61116-hugh-howey-and-the-indie-author-revolt.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=c39cd9288f-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-c39cd9288f-304511717)



It's right about there I start backing away. He makes some valid points but he doesn't put what he's saying into any context (the cost to SP authors, the actual chances of earning that money back and then actually reaching "commercial success," however that's defined) and it's mired in this "ur totes jelly" attitude throughout the article. I feel like I need a tinfoil hat or something. This article left a grimy film on my skin.


That article is a gross misrepresentation of the reality of the situation, and I think I'm going to go take a shower now, to wash off all the slime.

MookyMcD
02-21-2014, 01:24 AM
I don't see that doing anything to decrease the "stigma of self-publishing." HH, either. Making it sound like a no-money down real estate infomercial detracts from the legitimate considerations as a business model.

DoNoKharms
02-21-2014, 01:56 AM
I don't see that doing anything to decrease the "stigma of self-publishing." HH, either. Making it sound like a no-money down real estate infomercial detracts from the legitimate considerations as a business model.

Exactly. When someone is screaming in my ear about how happy they are and how good they have it, I get incredibly suspicious.

Kylabelle
02-21-2014, 02:03 AM
Traditionally published authors are watching their rebel brethren with an envious eye.

Ooh. Ooh. Tell it like it is. Ooh. Ooh. Tell it!

Rebel brethren. Rebel sisteren too! Oh my yes. Praise be. Sing it, brother!

*not either one, so, yanno, :popcorn: *

*with apologies to any Pentecostals among us here*

:D

Marian Perera
02-21-2014, 02:27 AM
Traditionally published authors are watching their rebel brethren with an envious eye.

Hybrid authors are... also watching their rebel brethren, but keeping the other eye on their evil Sith brethren for signs of treachery.

Alitriona
02-21-2014, 02:30 AM
Coker believes there is a stigma to 'Traditional' publishing. I'm sure some 'indies' say there is, but what I've seen is the success stories(like Howie) grabbing Trade contracts when offered.

I still want the benefits offered by Trade publishing. My experience of self-publishing has been less than amazing. I just don't believe it's as easy to join the revolution as some would have new authors believe.

I don't understand how the race to the bottom for prices does anything but devalue the work that goes into creating a book.

Liosse de Velishaf
02-21-2014, 03:41 AM
I don't see that doing anything to decrease the "stigma of self-publishing." HH, either. Making it sound like a no-money down real estate infomercial detracts from the legitimate considerations as a business model.


Best analogy ever...

RedWombat
02-21-2014, 03:59 AM
Hybrid authors are... also watching their rebel brethren, but keeping the other eye on their evil Sith brethren for signs of treachery.

Hey! HEY! You keep those bylines where I can see them! I've got a Force Choke with somebody's pen-name on it!

AdamNeymars
03-05-2014, 08:24 AM
For those who are interested, here's the B&N Nook author earnings that came out about a week ago

http://authorearnings.com/the-bn-report/

jjdebenedictis
03-05-2014, 11:41 PM
Another drive-by link from AdamNeymars, again presented without comment. Yay for consistency.

Torgo
03-06-2014, 12:08 AM
Thanks for the link Adam, but we do have the site address now, and people who are interested (myself included) are perusing it. If you have observations to make about the data or about Howey's interpretation of them, please do let us know; but we don't need links to every new post that goes up there.

Liosse de Velishaf
03-06-2014, 06:41 AM
Another drive-by link from AdamNeymars, again presented without comment. Yay for consistency.


He only posts similar posts in similar threads. Are we sure this isn't a sockpuppet of some self-publishing nut?

Kylabelle
03-06-2014, 06:57 AM
Folks, I'm locking this one for now. We seem to be going around in circles here.

Also, if you have concerns about the thread, other participants, or any particular post, please use the report post button or send a PM to me or to Torgo. We do get post reports and we do pay attention. It does us no service to add fuel to any fire that may be smoldering here or elsewhere, by making comments about other members.

Thanks.