This month, author Hugh Howey posted another Author Earnings report and the data is really interesting. Howey started this project to identify emerging trends in digital publishing and therefore help writers make more informed choices about publishing their manuscripts. To acquire the data, he looked at four things on Amazon: number of ranked titles, number of unit sales, gross earnings, and author earnings. He also has a link describing his methodology and, although I haven’t read that link, his stats are intriguing. Of course, there are always skeptics and critics, which is good. Questions should always be asked.
I won’t go into all the numbers and stats Howey came up with as you can read the report and see the graphs yourself, however a couple of things did strike me. The numbers show that self-publishers (also known as indie publishers) and small-to-mid-sized publishers are outselling the big five publishers on the bestseller list. They are also doing better in daily unit sales, (a combined 51% of sales to the big five’s 38%,) however, the big five publishers are making more money. Book pricing appears the big difference here, although there could well be other factors.
Howey also notes that self-published authors have been steadily earning more income (although disgruntled indie writers on Kindleboard forums would dispute this) while big five authors are earning less. Howey states that indie authors now earn more royalties than all big five authors combined. Based on his last two reports, indie author royalties are definitely creeping up the ladder. In fact, self-published authors are earning 40% of all royalties paid on the Kindle store. One possible reason for this, Howey says, is that big five publishers do seasonal promotion rather than year-round events like indie publishers tend to do.
One of the biggest myths out there, and something I’ve been wondering myself, is whether romance/erotica and sci-fi/fantasy novels are grabbing the lion’s share of indie sales. According to Howey, the answer is that while romance/erotica does sell more than other genres, nonfiction and mysteries are right behind them, with sci-fi/fantasy a little down on the list. Take a look at his findings at http://authorearnings.com/july-2014-author-earnings-report/