By: Hugh Howey (via Passive Voice)
It’s no great secret that the world of publishing is changing. What is a secret is how much. Is it changing a lot? Has most of the change already happened? What does the future look like?
The problem with these questions is that we don’t have the data that might give us reliable answers. Distributors like Amazon and Barnes & Noble don’t share their e-book sales figures. At most, they comment on the extreme outliers, which is about as useful as sharing yesterday’s lottery numbers [link]. A few individual authors have made their sales data public, but not enough to paint an accurate picture. We’re left with a game of connect-the-dots where only the prime numbers are revealed. What data we do have often comes in the form of surveys, many of which rely on extremely limited sampling methodologies and also questionable analyses [link].
This lack of data has been frustrating. If writing your first novel is the hardest part of becoming an author, figuring out what to do next runs a close second. Manuscripts in hand, some writers today are deciding to forgo six-figure advances in order to self-publish [link]. Are they crazy? Or is signing away lifetime rights to a work in the digital age crazy? It’s hard to know.
. . . .
When I faced these decisions, I had to rely on my own sales data and nothing more. Luckily, I had charted my daily sales reports as my works marched from outside the top one million right up to #1 on Amazon. Using these snapshots, I could plot the correlation between rankings and sales. It wasn’t long before dozens of self-published authors were sharing their sales rates at various positions along the lists in order to make author earnings more transparent to others [link] [link]. Gradually, it became possible to closely estimate how much an author was earning simply by looking at where their works ranked on public lists [link].
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 public—it’s online for anyone to see—but until now it’s 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 I’ve been asking for well over a year [link]. And now we finally have some answers.
. . . .
The first thing that jumped out at me when I opened my email was these next two charts, which our data guru had placed side-by-side. What caught my eye was how they seem to be inversely correlated:
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If you missed my writing & marketing tweets and retweets yesterday, here they are again:
- The Other Side of the Story: Guest Author Chanel Cleeton: How to Write New Adult http://ow.ly/txL5n
- Better Your Books with Beta Readers | Kindlemojo's Books and Bacon http://ow.ly/txLyg
- Rejection And Writers! Tools For Success And Motivation http://ow.ly/txLHV
- Vetting Your Editor | Molly Greene: Writer http://ow.ly/txMbc
- Social Media Monday—Instagram—The Social Media Network that Encourages Writers to Show Don’t Tell! http://ow.ly/txMl4
- Are You Breaking Your Promises on Pinterest? | Jimmie Lanley http://ow.ly/txMyF
- How to Use Breaking News to Buzz Your Book - Eight Strategies http://ow.ly/txMLr
- All About The Money: Authors, Readers, and Ebook Prices | Jami Gold, Paranormal Author http://ow.ly/txN3l
- 9 Simple and Powerful Ways to Get More Retweets on Twitter: Report - Jeffbullas's Blog http://ow.ly/txNfM
- New Author Earnings Report | The Passive Voice | http://ow.ly/txNxr http://ow.ly/i/4zDge
- Janet Reid, Literary Agent: Questions: sending revised manuscripts http://ow.ly/txOhS
- Lessons from Reality TV - Books & Such Literary Management : Books & Such Literary Management http://ow.ly/txOBo
- A Call for Writers to Organize: AuthorEarnings.com - Porter Anderson http://ow.ly/txPhW
- 3 Things to Set You on the Path to Publishing Success | WritersDigest.com http://ow.ly/txPxC
- Coffee Break Tales: How to sell over 350 000 books on Twitter http://ow.ly/txPNT http://ow.ly/i/4zDMS
- 60+ Facebook Groups for Authors - Promote Your Books, Blogs, and More http://ow.ly/txQpm http://ow.ly/i/4zDVN
- 7 Tips for Indie Authors to Thrive Together: Care and Feeding of Your Writers’ Collective http://ow.ly/txQHz http://ow.ly/i/4zE0u
- How to Speed Up Your Content Curation Process | Social Media Examiner http://ow.ly/txR0P http://ow.ly/i/4zE3J
- 10,000 Words - Where Journalism and Technology Meet http://ow.ly/txRwu http://ow.ly/i/4zEaG
- How to Download and Install Fonts | Indies Unlimited http://ow.ly/txRUQ http://ow.ly/i/4zEg0
- The Only Kind of Sentence You Should Use in Your Fiction http://ow.ly/txSq2
- Using Social Media When You Go, Literally [Research] - Heidi Cohen http://ow.ly/txSzM http://ow.ly/i/4zEpp
- Honing Writing Skills When You Aren’t Mid-Novel | Debbie Causevic http://ow.ly/tyeOY http://ow.ly/i/4zKfl
- Writability: 5 Publishing Myths That Need to Stop http://ow.ly/tyf9H http://ow.ly/i/4zKle
- Content Marketing - Shareability, Sharing, and Paying-it-Forward in the Writing and Marketing Arena http://ow.ly/tzppw
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