Adventures in self-publishing – some reports to watch

Thanks to a share on Facebook, I’ve discovered Author Earnings, the website of a group of people who are collecting data about book sales.

They have a range of reports that crunch data from authors and publicly available information to compare earnings across different publication methods. If you’re trying to make a decision about how to publish (and where, and in what format), these reports are a must read.

The tenured vs debut author report reveals startling information that most people just entering the market will want to know. Here’s their summary:

  • Big-5 publishers are massively reliant on their most established authors to the tune of 63% of their e-book revenue.
  • Roughly 46% of traditional publishing’s fiction dollars are coming from e-books.
  • Very few authors who debut with major publishers make enough money to earn a living—and modern advances don’t cover the difference.
  • In absolute numbers, more self-published authors are earning a living wage today than Big-5 authors.
  • When comparing debut authors who have equal time on the market, the difference between self-published and Big-5 authors is even greater.

And one chart (the report has lots more).


In the Print vs Digital report, they show that actual unit sales of the top 100 selling books are 61% digital, 39% print.

The October report looks at the impact of Kindle Unlimited on author earnings in each of the publication categories.

The July report has a graph showing that independently published books without DRM sold twice as many copies as those with DRM.


Many of the reports focus on Amazon sales, but the site also has two reports on Barnes & Noble sales.

All in all, a great resource.

By the way, the Kindle e-store currently has in the region of 3 million titles for sale, and around 75,000 available free.


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