You have to hand it to Hugh Howey and the elusive Data Guy: they do a great but thankless service for which they receive heaps of professional scorn, but they don’t let that stop them. Every time they release a new Author Earnings report filled with charts and graphs and actual information culled over countless hours at the computer, I remember the scene from the film Day After Tomorrow when Jake Gyllenhaal’s character pleads with the people to not go out into the storm, begging them to save themselves and warning them they will die if they go out there.
They don’t listen, of course. And then they die.
But the fact that Author Earnings has been providing solid data–regardless of the people who declare that the data is not solid, despite having no other proof of that statement other than their status as well-known industry professionals–all this time has done little to change the minds of the top names in publishing. They still wave their hands dismissively and continue along the course they’ve been charting for four hundred years.
The “executive summary,” or key takeaways of the findings in this January 2015 report, states:
- “AuthorEarnings reports analyze detailed title-level data on 33% of all daily ebook sales in the U.S.
- 30% of the ebooks being purchased in the U.S. do not use ISBN numbers and are invisible to the industry’s official market surveys and reports; all the ISBN-based estimates of market share reported by Bowker, AAP, BISG, and Nielsen are wildly wrong.
- 33% of all paid ebook unit sales on Amazon.com are indie self-published ebooks.
- 20% of all consumer dollars spent on ebooks on Amazon.com are being spent on indie self-published ebooks.
- 40% of all dollars earned by authors from ebooks on Amazon.com are earned by indie self-published ebooks.
- In mid-year 2014, indie-published authors as a cohort began taking home the lion’s share (40%) of all ebook author earnings generated on Amazon.com while authors published by all of the Big Five publishers combined slipped into second place at 35%.”
The newest information from the most recent Author Earnings report includes its usual proof in the pudding of how indie authors are faring in the current book retail market, but also includes an interesting topic that hasn’t received as much attention due to the availability of months of back data: Kindle Unlimited numbers.
“A quick aside on Kindle Unlimited (KU). The indie share of author earnings includes 8% from KU borrows of indie books. In our last report, KU was a brand new part of the author-earnings landscape. To account for it accurately, we crowdsourced borrow-versus-buy ratios from hundreds of indie authors participating in KU, and found that they averaged 1:1 (half KU borrows, half full-price purchases). We used that 50% borrow ratio as a baseline in our author earnings calculations, although we found that plugging in any other ratio instead, even 0% borrows or 100% borrows, made little difference in the overall numbers and pie charts. In November, when Amazon.com announced the size of the October KU “pot” at $5.5 million and the indie per-borrow payout at $1.33, we could now double-check our crowdsourced KU-borrow ratio of 50%. So we did:
$5.5 million / $1.33 = 4,135,338 indie KU borrows in October
Which is exactly 48% of the 8,561,293 paid monthly downloads (purchases + borrows) of Indie & Uncategorized books in KU shown by our data — quite close to the 50% we originally crowdsourced. Perhaps the wisdom of crowds is a thing, after all.”
For a closer look at the in-depth report (and all of its pretty charts and graphs), click HERE.