The May 2014 Author Earnings Report

The latest report just went live. This was as exciting for us as the first 50K report we ran, because we had no idea which way the needle might move, if it moved at all. We are now able to look at how e-book sales move over time. As we get more of these daily snapshots, we’ll be able to gauge longer-term trends. A week from today, we will release a supplemental report to look at tenured vs. newer authors and the size of the publishing middle class. As before, our data is available for download, so anyone can play with these numbers.


11 responses to “The May 2014 Author Earnings Report”

  1. Hugh,

    Just a quick note to thank you and Data Guy for all your hard work. I started in non-fiction with traditional publishers and am now setting my first steps in fiction on Amazon. It can be a huge challenge to find solid information on which way to go as the industry keeps on changing so quickly. AuthorEarnings is solid gold and makes these decisions much easier by basing them on data instead of opinions. So thank you!
    I look forward to next Monday already,


    1. Thanks, Wim. Best of luck in the move to fiction!

  2. Again, interesting and encouraging to the indies out there. Thank you, Hugh, and ADG. :D

  3. Very interesting, Hugh. Thanks to both you and Data Guy.
    What stuck out for me is the importance of backlist titles for the Big 5. I also wonder where their next big breakout hit is coming from because, at least in the UK, I see less new genre fiction being bought and more reliance on celebrity titles. Also, on both sides of the Atlantic, I see very little patience from publishers in terms of building authors and series over time.
    As someone who was traditionally published and is now indie/hybrid I just don’t see any further upside to taking a trad deal unless the advance is significant and you’re getting a huge marketing push. In fact it could be argued that because you are surrendering control over pricing and promotion that a trad deal is placing authors at an active disadvantage.

    1. >> on both sides of the Atlantic, I see very little patience from publishers in terms of building authors and series over time.


      A substantial SFF book is about 300,000 words. Traditional publishers seem allergic to debut novels that run over 150,000 words. And they keep choosing epic series by authors who are unable or unwilling to finish what they started.

  4. Thanks Hugh and Data Guy Extraordinaire! I love getting these reports — the data cruncher in me eats them up. Slurp.

    I’ve been reading PW for a while now, especially the business news, and note that several of the Big 5 reported increased earnings despite decreased sales. Part of it is due to the higher share of royalties they earn of their author’s eBook sales, and I also think the backlist you mention is part of the reason why. If I were a Big 5 Published Author I think I’d be some pissed.

    But I’m one of the indie authors whose books likely appear in your report so I’m happy!

    1. Yeah, this was how the Hollywood writers ended up on strike. They realized the studios were making profits and leaving them out in the cold.

      The reason we haven’t seen an uprising from established authors, I think, is that they see mega publishers as the little guys and Amazon as the bad guy. Hollywood didn’t have an Amazon or disappearing bookstores to keep artists scared of something worse.

  5. […] Hugh’s own blog is excellent too, in particular his reporting on traditional versus self-publishing earnings. […]

  6. […] Sharing the Wealth with Hugh Howey, who was a busy boy this week. Not only did he put up the latest Author Earnings Report, he also had some great comments to add to the industry relating to the RT Booklovers Convention, […]

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