Friday, January 27, 2017

Alternative Facts

Copyright 2017, Author Earnings
Author Earnings' latest report came out via Data Guy's presentation at last week's Digital Book World '17. This was more of an overall view of the industry and included not just Data guy's spiders, but also information from Nielson and Bookscan.

Yes, there was some pretty significant information. Such as the strength of indies in underserved markets such as African-American-themed books. Or that the print book sales surge was actually a test by Amazon offering consumers steeper discounts on trad published books after post-conspiracy debacle contract negotiations were resumed. Or that e-books have plateaued or shrink and instead are up 4%.

What's more telling to me though is that the same people, who derisively dismissed Hugh Howey and Data Guy's efforts when they started Author Earnings a little over three years, are now listening attentively. Yeah, the same people, who screamed from nearly every online venue that DG was a liar and his data was false, are now inviting him to their conferences, sitting raptly at attention and soaking in the numbers.

I know there's at least one of you out there thinking, "But, but, but digital was growing 100-200-300% back 2010-2011. 4% is awful!"

No, it's isn't. Let's you sold 1 e-book in 2010. Not a lot, but a good start. In 2011, you sold 2 e-books. That's a 100% increase. In 2012, you sold 20 e-books and that's a 1000% increase for you.

Compare that to total e-books available on Amazon (because I'm trying to make this easy to follow). When I first started publishing, there were roughly 3 million e-books available. Staying in the top third, i.e. your rank was above #1,000,000, was fairly easy.

Now, there an estimated nine million e-books available. My books are generally ranked roughly around #2,500,000 mark. That's still the top 30%. However, there's more books to choose from so it doesn't mean I'm making anywhere near the amount of sales I was before.

(And no, I'm not blaming Amazon or anyone else. I only started publishing again last June after a nearly three year hiatus due to personal issues that I enumerated extensively during that time period. I still hold to the belief that the best way to market your books is by producing more material for your readers.)

So the money pot is actually growing. There just happens to be more people dipping into it. However, there's still room for indie growth.

How so?

Beyond numbers, there's something more telling. Trad publishing is leaving a hell of a lot of money on the table. Remember the African-American themed books I mentioned above? 96% of those sales were e-books, and guess who controls that market? Trad publishers like to claim that certain portions of our country don't read, but the numbers say otherwise.

The best thing indie writers can take from the latest AE report is that trad publishing is leaving a lot of genre territory for us to claim. So get out there, find a niche genre you love and start writing it!

P.S. Yes, I stole Data Guy's Pac-Man slide. It's cute, and it's a generational thing.

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