So, the reason my site just crashed is because of a little project I’ve been working on with a friend of mine. We broke street date a day early, as my co-founder and I cracked beers over Skype to celebrate the launch of and the publication of our first report, and down went all the pretty toys.

This project started a little less than two weeks ago, when a programmer emailed me to share some data he’d pulled from Amazon’s bestseller lists. It painted a picture of indie publishing even more optimistic than my rainbow-and-unicorn fantasies. He asked if I wanted to help him present the data. I told him I was underqualified, but I’d give it a go.

I’ve been working on this while on book tour in Taiwan, jetlagged all to hell, but several people gave wonderful suggestions, and my partner and I are extremely proud of the result. We approached some media outlets to run this, as it’s too big a deal for my blog, and we heard that it was too long for their site, that it wouldn’t interest their readers, and so on. Which was perfect, because my hope all along was to create a site dedicated to this data and this report. Which is what we did. We just didn’t rent a big enough server.

Should be coming back online as we speak. I’ll have more to say about the data as the storm settles. Peace.

37 responses to “”

  1. As a journalist (in addition to indie author), whoever passed on publishing this is deeply, deeply stupid. I suspect it will change shortly.

    1. I thought the same thing. I’m glad they did though. Always better to self-publish. :)

  2. What an extraordinary job you and your partner did, Hugh. I’m dumbfounded by the work you both put in, and the revelations the data reveals.

    Until it goes live again I posted it on my website, with some commentary.

    I’m not surprised that none of the legacy publications wanted to touch this. Happily, this will be a huge news story regardless. Word of mouth is going to continue for a very long time…

    1. Thanks, Joe!

      Incidentally, it was just about two years ago to the week that I called you and asked for some advice. I’ll never forget that. You are a good man.

  3. Hugh, thank you so much for this incredible gift!
    I finished Sand yesterday. It was amazing company on my trip as I hung out in various airports. THANK YOU for that as well!

    Any chance that your programmer friend will revel his/her identity?
    Any chance that we will be able to get a report that shows personalized results? Seems like a way to monetize this project!

  4. Another author did a similar analysis recently with a smaller sample:

    Conclusions are similar in both studies, but it’s worth reading them both, as the questions asked are a little bit different.

  5. Excellent work Hugh.

    Your passion is relentless!!

  6. I was hoping that was the reason your site was down! Best reason to have. (Though I feel for you, fighting that sort of trouble on your first day home.) Looking forward to seeing the data.

  7. Hugh, thank your data mining wizard of a friend for us all.

    And I’d like to thank you personally, as someone with a data mining background, but currently polishing my soon to be first self-published fantasy novel. So this study speaks my language, and validates the decision I’ve made after carefully considering the information out there, much of it coming through people like you and Joe. Thank you.

    Just finished Wool 1 last night (finally, too many in the queue!) after following your blog for a while now, and will take the suggestion made by another to buy more of your books in thanks for the work you do for all of us. (But mostly because I enjoyed your book).

    Buy Hugh’s books to thank him for being involved in getting this info out there!

    And lots of people want a chance to thank your programmer friend, so he should figure out how that can happen.

    (This blog comment not paid for by Hugh Howey or his programmer friend.)

  8. Thank you and your partner! This data (read over at Joe’s) is amazing. It definitely reinforced the notion that I made the right decision self publishing.

  9. What a great service you and your partner have provided. Your energy, brains, and generosity are astounding. Thank you!

  10. What a great report! Thank you, Hugh, for this hard work and great presentation. This is the kind of cold look at the numbers we need. Looking forward to more, and hoping others follow your example.

  11. Thanks for doing this, Hugh. As a small-time hybrid, but mainly self-published author, it feels good to see a more realistic picture of the industry than painted through outliers and mega-bestsellers. The important story is in the mid-list.

  12. Hugh – remarkable effort from you and your programmer guy. Just remarkable.

  13. Hugh, thanks for demystifying this… it’s fascinating to see. For me, the most interesting graph was the “number of authors earning 10K, 25K…” Such a curve is always going to slope down as income increases, but it was encouraging to see the path was overwhelmingly in favour of indie authors. I’m still squarely in the 10K bracket, but the leap forward doesn’t seem quite as insurmountable as before.

  14. This is great! Thank you for your hard work!

  15. Terrific work, Hugh. Thank you for this.

  16. It’s Edward Snowden, am I right?

  17. The amount of work involved in this mind-boggling! Thank you to your partner who developed the means to cull this data. Hugh, your narrative presentation of the information is well thought-out and easy to understand. Thank you for your commitment to this difficult project and the writers who will benefit from the information. You really will become a catalyst for change. I can feel it.

  18. Very exciting stuff! Looking forward to the project’s completion. Thank you building it!

  19. […] Konrath and Chuck Wendig have already blogged about the site. As as Hugh. I strongly recommend you read all three posts before the […]

  20. The thing that cracks me up is there’s probably some poor schmuck out there that’s been doing all this by hand, putting chicken marks on his bedroom walls, about three-quarters of the way through who probably had a stroke or will have a stroke when he finds out about your report. Lol. In all seriousness, though, wanted to thank you and your silent friend for the work you put into this.

  21. Absolute Write has now locked TWO threads linking to your report, both for hilarious reasons. The site is a laughingstock.

    1. So sad. I hope those people find whatever it is they’re looking for.

    2. Absolute Write shut down the first thread for very good reasons:

      “Since the OP didn’t stick around to offer her reasons for starting the thread[1], and since everyone[2] seems to find big problems with the math and handling of the statistics referred to, and since as I posted upthread we’ve had numerous discussions here lately on this issue[3], I am locking this one for now.”

      [1] They waited exactly 60 minutes for her to provide “reasons” before locking the thread. I admire their patience.
      [2] “Everyone” = 2 people.
      [3] We’ve previously speculated about this topic in the absence of data; so now that we have data, there’s no point in discussing it further.

      It’s actually pretty funny!

      1. I hope Hugh is gearing up to create an Independent Author’s Guild–and that it will offer good, supportive forums focusing on both business and craft. (KBoards is mostly about the business side).

        1. If a guild does eventuate I hope it isn’t just for independents and is open to all authors.

          1. I wouldn’t worry. Note that a lot of the commentary in the report is advocating for better contracts with traditional publishers: abolishing non-competes, 50% revenue on e-books, limited-time contracts, etc. So clearly the objective is to represent all authors, to make all paths treat authors fairly.

  22. Wow-thanks for the amazing work on The Report! I was able to get a copy (I guess after the servers came back up), and for someone who is trying to make a go of it in the self-publishing world, this is pure gold. I’ll definitely be sharing with my writer’s group! Thanks again!!

  23. […] Hugh Howey post and thread […]

  24. Great work! Can’t wait for more data and analysis in the future.
    In the Daily Revenue to Author, Publisher, Amazon graph you should take out 15% from the Authors and portion it to Agent (where applicable)… just sayin’

  25. Hugh, thanks to you and your Racer X, but also, damn you! You’ve given away The Secret! Now thousands of writers will have validation for their path, and stop feeling bad. How dare you interject reality into the publishing discussion? ;-) Adn how come we didn’t have to pay $295 for this information? I don’t trust it unless I get overcharged for it…
    Methinks I hear the final trumpet sounding the fall of the walls of Jericho. If Big Pub cannot refute this, they are completely screwed. They had a few years left in them before this, but anyone who can do math will now wake up.

  26. You are fantastic, Mr Hugh Howey. Thank you for this.

  27. Racer X is a certified technical badass with pedigree. I worked with him for many years on a number of sensitive projects and he’s more qualified than the publishing world wants to know. Kudos to you guys. Keep up the disruption.

  28. […] But even if Amazon is screwing writers, take a look at their royalty rates. Are you prepared to argue that the Big Five offer a better deal for writers who can’t sell books by name recognition alone? Are you prepared to dispute the data? […]

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