Sunday, February 23, 2014

Author Earnings

Indie publishing sensation Hugh Howey has once again set the world on fire.  This time, however, he hasn't done so with one of his awesome novels, but rather by pinning a new website called Author Earnings.

This site tracks the sales of over 50,000 titles.  The "spider" program at the heart of the site crawls through the earnings of tons of novels to see how they're selling and what they're doing in relation to other titles.  It tracks what kind of work is selling(fiction vs nonfiction), as well as the type(ie, genre).  But more importantly, it also tracks the way these novels were published.

And this is what has created the firestorm.

The major publishers have, in the past, blown off indie publishing by saying it doesn't sell very well.  It's done with a dismissive wave of the hand and a sneering voice, implying that you're not a "real author" if you publish independently of the traditional publishing houses.  The major publishers have used this for some time to draw(read - coerce) new writers into deals that benefit the publishers much more than the writer.

However, Author Earnings now shows the real deal - not only are indie titles hanging right in there with the big boys, but writers who go the indie route are more than capable of making a living while doing so.  The report at the center of the entire site breaks down sales and potential earnings in such detail that the numbers are hard to ignore, even if you're a fancy publisher or agent from New York.  Not only is indie close to traditional in both sales and gross earnings, but the earnings of the writers in indie far exceeds that of traditionally publishers writers.

Traditional publishing is going ape shit over this.  No longer can they hide behind the façade that indie writers are starving while the ones traditional publishers represent are making it.  The entire raison d'etre for traditional publishers doing what they do to writers with one-sided deals collapses in the face of stark numbers.

Of course, some traditional publishers and agents from the "Big 5" are trying to blow this off as well, but it reeks of desperation.  Hugh's report should give hope to every aspiring writer that hasn't cracked the ceiling of traditional publishing.  Yes, you must have talent, as well as a certain amount of luck, but that's endemic to every endeavor.  By shining the light of truth on what a writer can do, Hugh has helped free up potential writers from the chains of traditional publishing.

Freedom is at hand - can you grasp it?

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