Good news for indie authors

Fellow writers, I don’t know about you, but my inbox looks something like this:

pieces v peace

You too? Well, I have really great news to share with you! We can all stop trying to make heads or tails of our publishing industry emails and breathe. I’ve recently become acquainted with a very insightful website that is attempting to objectively track publishing trends. published their first report back in February, with strong confirmations that the publishing industry is definitely in a metamorphosis, potentially in favor of the indie author but overwhelmingly in favor of digital books. With their subsequent reports, more information comes to light that is pretty encouraging for those of us who’ve decided to go indie.

From the July Author Earnings report:

We can now say that self-published authors earn more in royalties than Big 5 authors, combined. This may reverse itself by the time February rolls around, but it adds weight to a recent story in The Guardian about the unsustainability of traditional publishing if authors continue to earn less while their publishers earn more.

It bears putting a number here and stressing what we are seeing: Self-published authors are now earning nearly 40% of all ebook royalties on the Kindle store. The days of looking at self-publishing as a last option are long gone. A lot has changed in six months.


From the recent October 2014 Author Earnings report:

We’d also like to remind those who read our reports that our results are not an indication that everyone in publishing is getting rich. As we warned in our very first report, self-publishing is not a gold rush. Publishing in general will disappoint most anyone who enters into the endeavor in order to make piles of money. There are many other reasons to write and publish, some arguably more noble than increasing wealth. And however you publish, the chances of earning a full-time living are not great. Our contention, however, is that the chances have never been better. Because every day, the writer and the reader assume control of an industry that used to rely almost entirely upon middlemen to bring these two parties together. More money is now flowing to artists than ever before, and that art is costing consumers less than ever before.


Did you hear that? BUH-bye middlemen, HELLO happy authors and readers! Oh, and I love this part the most:

What the data tells us, then, is that self-publishing is just as viable as any other form of publishing. Perhaps more so. No one can halt your career because an early title underperforms expectations. You get to hire the editors and cover artists you want to work with. You get to write whatever you want and publish whenever and however often you like. And you can publish every which way. Self-publishing used to close you off to other avenues, now it simply opens them up.


Purple hair

My new burple-nurple purple hair. Yes, that is a Chowder reference, and yes, I am a fan.

As an indie author weeks away from publishing her first novel, I can tell you that this is very encouraging. I needed to see this data because I’ve been fluctuating between optimism and self-doubt. Again. Well, actually, still. It’s never really gone away.

At 3 pm on any given day I’m thinking, “I can do this. I’m almost there. The next phase is about to begin and it’s all up to me. This is so fun. I’m kind of nervous. I hope I make my family proud. I wonder what people are going to think of The Recollection of Trees?”

At 3 am, I’m thinking, “Can I do this? What if I don’t finish? Holy crap, the next part is about to begin and it’s all up to me! Can I handle it? I’m going to have to leave the house to sign books and I’m going to have to wear something other than yoga pants. I’m NOT giving up my Halloween socks. Oh my gawd I’m so nervous. Will people hate it? Will they love it? What if they HATE it? What if they LOVE it?”

This is the normal mental state of most any writer. I’m not crazy, I’m human. Ok, maybe I’m a little bit crazy. I dyed my hair two shades of purple last week during a midnight writer’s panic. A few days later, someone politely asked me, “For Halloween, right?”

Yeah, that’s it. For Halloween.

Regarding my financial expectations (at 3 pm, when I am a bit more grounded), do I expect to be the next bagillionaire author? Not really, no. But making even $10k-$25k a year is now confirmed as a realistic goal for me, not just an airy-fairy dream. I can rationally hope for a modest level of success, which would have a positive impact on my family. It’s not much, but it would mean a ton to us.

So, it’s fantastic to have what appears to be an objective group with their eye on the ball and their finger on the pulse of the publishing industry. I look forward to next February 2015 when Author will be able to do a year-to-year comparison of their data and reports.

What about you? Do you agree with the Author’s Earnings report findings?

I’m no statistician or mathematician, but I do know what it’s like to have a “dark night of the soul” cocoon phase that seems endless. I think the best is yet to come for the publishing industry, and at the very least, perhaps we can finally realize that there is more than enough room for all types of writers and publishers. The best part is what comes after the cocoon.

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”-Cynthia Occelli

And, to answer my 3 am self-doubt (or yours if you too suffer from writer’s insomnia): Yes, you can do this and YES, you’re going to have to leave the house, but being true to yourself (which in my case involves lucky Halloween socks and purple hair) will make it all okay. Now for Pete’s sake get off the internet and either go write or go get some sleep!!!

(I am not employed by, being compensated by, or affiliated with Author I just respect the heck out of them for attempting to bring clarity to the writer’s decision-making process.)