So we Indies and our e-books are dying out? Huh! Read the facts at Authorearnings.com
These guys are great and they deal in facts!!!
When you look only at authors who started publishing less than a decade ago — in 2005 or later — the gap between the numbers of indie and traditionally published authors earning midlist-or-better incomes nearly disappears. Fast work, considering that none of those indies had widespread access to readers until 2010, giving their traditionally-published cohort-mates a five-year head start.
In fact, if we look at only authors who debuted in the “ebook era” — i.e. in 2010 or after — we see a reversal. At each annual earnings level, we find far more indies than traditionally-published authors who debuted in the last 5 years and are now earning that much or more.
If we look at the most recent debuts — authors whose first Kindle book was published in the last three years or so — the disparity grows:
There are fewer than half as many traditionally published authors as indie authors who debuted in the last 3 years and are now earning consistently at the $25K/year level or $50K/year level from Kindle ebooks.
This, then, is the world that all new entrants — whether traditionally published or indie — face in 2015. If you’re a debut author in 2015 with a manuscript in hand, or even an experienced author regaining the rights to your backlist or starting out with a fresh pen name, when choosing your publishing route it’s that right-most set of bars in every one of these charts that is today most relevant to you.
But what if you are destined to be more than a mid-lister? You don’t want to sell your work short. Isn’t it still worth being patient and pursuing the traditional route, to have a better shot at truly stellar earnings?
Surprisingly, as we move into six-figure-earning territory and beyond, the contrast between indie ebook earnings and traditionally-published ebook earnings becomes even more stark. Let’s look at:
In closing, while these trends in our changing industry are exciting, it’s also worth reminding ourselves that the odds against an author being able to make a full-time, high-paying career out of writing are long indeed. They always have been. There are many hundreds of thousands of US authors publishing books each year, both traditionally published and indie. Only a few fortunate thousand from among them will end up earning a living solely from their art, no matter which publishing path they take.
The choice of how to publish is never an easy one. It’s also worth reminding ourselves that what works best for one author may not be what works best for another. All paths have their merits and downsides, and neither can guarantee anyone success. But today, our chances of achieving that success as writers are better, and there are more ways we can make it happen, than at any previous time in history.
And that’s a wonderful thing.
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11 Responses to “Individual author earnings tracked across 7 quarters, Feb. 2014 – Sept. 2015”
September 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm
Like all of your reports before, this one continues to shine a light on the current state of the publishing world.
I’ve never questioned my decision to be an Indie author and even if the numbers showed that Traditional was the way to go, the freedom and control is what I like most about being an author/publisher.
That being said, this is the first year I’ll crack the 25K mark (possibly the 50K mark, but that depends on how the last quarter goes. Last year I hit 10K and the year before 5K. The big difference each year as been the number of titles I have available.
This business has changed my life and I’m very appreciative of all that you do for our community. Reading these sorts of reports always makes my day.
Brian D. Meeks
(Sometimes Arthur Byrne)
September 23, 2015 at 4:14 pm