The ninth quarterly Author Earnings Report came out Monday. For those who've been sailing around the Caribbean for the two years (oh, wait! that's one of AE's authors, and it's only been for the last couple of months), AE is a project put together by SFF writer Hugh Howey and his partner Data Guy.
Basically, these two gentlemen have developed spiders that crawl through the Amazon book data and scrape info concerning the sales of genre books on a given day. They then spreadsheet and smoosh and extrapolate whatever's happening in the wilds of Amazon to the book industry. The really cool thing is they make the raw data available for the public so we can also spreadsheet and smoosh and extrapolate to our little hearts' content, too.
The first report came out with very little fanfare except among indie writers. It showed that we were selling a pretty decent chunk of e-books on Amazon. It reassured us that this e-book self-publishing thing wasn't a flash in the pan.
As more reports came out, trad publishing pundits first made fun of the reports. They called it wish fulfillment. But with each successive report, the laughter died, and the complaints about their collection methodology began. As more reports rolled in, the complaints became shriller.
With the latest report (mind you, this is all being done by a couple of guys as a hobby), certain insiders are calling for AE to be audited. So what's behind all the mockery and complaints?
Fear. Simple unrelenting fear.
More and more of trad publishing's normal news channels are reporting falling sales. Let's face it--the savior over Christmas for the trad publishers was the popularity of adult coloring books. There hasn't a major fiction blockbuster since Fifty Shades of Gray in 2012.
The AE report shows where those missing sales are going, the pockets of indies. And this terrifies the Manhattan literati. So much so that Porter Anderson is calling for the duo to be audited and Lee Child mocks them for inaccuracy.
If indies were as inconsequential as many in trad publishing believe, then there is no reason for the uproar. But that screaming gets louder with each successive report. The fear has gone from general unease to full-blown panic.
What does this all mean?
To me, not a damn thing. I've played with their raw data enough to confirm what I already knew. I've gone from making a week's worth of groceries in my first year of publishing my work to paying for my son's oral surgery out of pocket.
Now. if you will excuse me, I need to write and publish a few more books because GK needs his wisdom teeth out this summer.