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All Things Writing & Publishing > Percentages of Authors Earning $10k+/yr on Amazon

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message 1: by Alex (last edited Jun 07, 2016 12:18AM) (new)

Alex (asato) I did some # crunching.

Total # of authors on Amazon
75,943 Indie Authors
123,371 Small/Medium Publisher Authors
   1,822 Amazon Imprint Authors
  35,457 Big Five Authors
  57,498 Uncategorized
-------------------------------
294,091 Total

9,900 making $10k+/yr = 3.37%
4600 @$25k+/yr = 1.56%
2,500 @$50k+/yr = 0.85%
1340 @$100k+/yr = 0.45%

This is not your chances of making that much, but it does give you an idea of what you are up against. So, when someone tells you that you should become a writer, then you can point them to this post for a taste of reality.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Lol so very true. Better to write for the joy of it!


message 3: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Mamma mia - 300 k authors?! Useful info, Alex!
Yeah, one can do whatever, but it's important to have realistic expectations, especially since there is no foolproof formula how to become one of those less than 1% writers who make a living out of it...


message 4: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Nik wrote: "Mamma mia - 300 k authors?! Useful info, Alex!
Yeah, one can do whatever, but it's important to have realistic expectations, especially since there is no foolproof formula how to become one of thos..."


if you go to that link and read past the $100K+ club, then you will see how few are in the 7-figure club.


message 5: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Alex G wrote: "if you go to that link and read past the $100K+ club, then you will see how few are in the 7-figure club.."

Yep, only 1340. I suspected that much. That very few (as opposite to the entire 300K) make it big time, while the vast majority of others are far far behind. With these figures, I guess a writing biz is not bankable, but likely crowdfundable -:)


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 10707 comments Crowd funding is not such a bad idea. If you could get a large number of small donations, and to make the donors have change of getting their money back you told them all to buy a copy at a given time and date, you would go to the top of the Amazon best-seller list for that day, and with a bit of luck, and astute timing, you would get a lot of extra sales. That would work until Amazon caught on, anyway.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments What about Patreon?


message 8: by Alex (last edited Jun 07, 2016 10:09PM) (new)

Alex (asato) Nik wrote: "Alex G wrote: "if you go to that link and read past the $100K+ club, then you will see how few are in the 7-figure club.."

Yep, only 1340. I suspected that much. That very few (as opposite to the ..."


actually, for 7 figures, there are only 64 authors = 0.02%

Tara wrote: "What about Patreon?"

yep. basically, the way i see it is patreon and these other "kickstarter"-like webapps are a way of directly interacting w/your customer-base. and, depending on the popularity of the "interaction-enabling" webapp, you can reach a very large audience.

gone is the blog.

but, like anything in hi-tech, there's a certain window of opportunity. for patreon that window would be closing by the end of the year. N.K. Jemisin has just primed the pump.

if you can get in now, then you could build your brand and then that would positively impact your other sales.

right now, i'm submitting my short fiction, but i might change my tactics and switch to patreon. i'll see if anything gets accepted by the end of july.


message 9: by Nik (last edited Jun 07, 2016 10:46PM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Alex G wrote: "actually, for 7 figures, there are only 64 authors = 0.02%"

Right, 7-digits, not 6. It looks so unrealistic, when I'm trying to achieve 3-digits, that I haven't even paid attention -:)


message 10: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Nik wrote: "Right, 7-digits, not 6. It looks so unrealistic, when I'm trying to achieve 3-digits, that I haven't even paid attention -:)"

i know right. it's a pretty depressing statistic, but it is important to know the real market. especially so that you don't believe the scam artists who tell you that you that's it's so easy to make it if you just buy their marketing services that are specially tailored to indies.


message 11: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Alex G wrote: "the scam artists who tell you that you that's it's so easy to make it if you just buy their marketing services that are specially tailored to indies..."

Yeah, I guess one shouldn't believe the marketing pitch of their marketing services, but rather look at the performance of the writers they represent. Current Amazon rating can tell you a lot. With a new book each sale on Amazon.com brings you into the range of 90-100K selling rating and into around 50K on Amazon UK. With a long time selling book, each sale brings into 200K on Amazon.com. From there one can deduce how good the sales of their clients are.
Marketing whether through your own efforts or outsourced seems inevitable, but it's so easy to spend decent amounts on wrong directions or on those, who sell dreams, so some extra care and a little of due dilligence checks aren't superfluous


message 12: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Ian wrote: "If you could get a large number ......... to buy a copy at a given time and date, you would go to the top of the Amazon best-seller list for that day, and with a bit of luck, and astute timing, you would get a lot of extra sales."

I also thought along the same lines and it should work, but depending how many sales you can time for the specific moment and how high you can go with that in a popular sub-genre category. It makes sense that a top-selling position should be self-propulsive


message 13: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Since Faith brought up some stats, I thought some might want to compare with those above ....


message 14: by Aiden (new)

Aiden Bailey (aidenlbailey) | 76 comments Write series, and write in one of the genres, romance, crime or young adult seems the most likely path to success.


message 15: by Elisa (new)

Elisa | 2 comments This really brings me back to reality


Elizabeth ♛Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛  (pinkhairedwannabe) | 65 comments Not all YA books are successful though. Some of my favorite authors, though people know who they are, did not become best-selling authors.


message 17: by Aiden (new)

Aiden Bailey (aidenlbailey) | 76 comments Elizabeth♛ Everyone Else Has a Super Long Name With a Symbol So I Might as Well Do it Too♛ wrote: "Not all YA books are successful though. Some of my favorite authors, though people know who they are, did not become best-selling authors."

There is no guarantee in an genre to becoming successful, from what publishers and book sellers tell me, these are the most popular genres.

Someone once told me that a good indication of the types of books that sell well are those that are sold in airports. People buy quickly there, wanting a good read for long flights. So every time I'm flying, I check out those stores to see what is hot right now, and think about how to position my books to hopefully one day slot into airport stores around the world.


Elizabeth ♛Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛  (pinkhairedwannabe) | 65 comments That's a good point. I just look at what people like and want more of. I want to remain original in the industry, so I read lots of reviews and blogs of people asking for certain things and write about those things.


message 19: by Aiden (new)

Aiden Bailey (aidenlbailey) | 76 comments Elizabeth♛ Everyone Else Has a Super Long Name With a Symbol So I Might as Well Do it Too♛ wrote: "That's a good point. I just look at what people like and want more of. I want to remain original in the industry, so I read lots of reviews and blogs of people asking for certain things and write a..."

I think it is a smart move as an author to watch the market, which I can see you are doing Elizabeth.

I believe as authors we need to find something original in what we each write to appeal above all the other authors out there, but remain true to the genre we write in, so readers get what they expect.

Success I see is like this:

1. Come up with an idea no one has had before
2. Write it in a way that the first line makes the reader want to read the second line, which makes them want to read the third line, and keep this up for an entire book, so when the reader get to the end they want to move straight into your next book. Then they insist that at least three of their friends read your book.
3. Make sure you market your book in the right genre, and stick with that genre.
4. Have a catchy, professional cover, and a back cover blurb that meets the requirements of point 2.
5. Do this all again with your next book, which should be released within 12 months of your first book.

Easy to say but very difficult to put into practice. But I certainly adopted this approach when I wrote The Benevolent Deception, but only time will tell how successful I am. Having a plan is better than no plan, as they say.


message 20: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Hi Alex,

Great thread. Tells me that I am explicitly aiming for the top 1.3%.

I figure that I can find 5000 committed readers who will buy what I write. I can write 1 new book per 9 months with a royalty of $3 each.

That's 15K per 9 months, which would be very nice for doing something that I love/(obsession) doing.


message 21: by Alex (last edited Jan 21, 2017 11:00PM) (new)

Alex (asato) To add some color to the numbers, I've included the original post on authorearnings.com. You can download the data (which is compiled every quarter on 1 million Amazon titles and Amazon) in an excel spreadsheet and run your own analysis for your own genre.

Note: This is not your chances of making that much, but it does give you an idea of what you are up against.
"Data Guy
June 7, 2016 at 12:16 am
Hi, Diana,

Thanks!

I’m not sure where you got the impression that the number of indie authors in our data set is overwhelmingly higher than the number of Big Five or Small/Medium Publishers, though — that’s not really the case.

Here are the actual author counts in our data set:

75,943 Indie Authors
123,371 Small/Medium Publisher Authors
1,822 Amazon Imprint Authors
35,457 Big Five Authors
57,498 Uncategorized

Per the above, it turns out there are actually far more traditionally published authors in our data set than indie authors, which makes the relative discrepancy between indie and traditional earnings even more remarkable.

It also means that the *percentage* of all traditionally published authors landing in the higher tax brackets is quite a bit lower than the percentage of indies landing in them.

But even this is a false equivalence. Because it ignores traditional publishing’s slush pile.

Remember, the indie author count already contains self-publishing’s equivalent of the slush pile.

Which makes comparing “percentages of all authors earning $X” somewhat meaningless, unless you include the traditional slush pile also: otherwise, it’s as misleading as comparing the incomes of lottery ticket-buyers on the one side (the indie one) with lottery winners on the other side (the trad pub one).

Imagine you’re a new author with manuscript in hand, trying to choose which way to publish.

To evaluate the probability of a given level of financial success along each publishing path, you’d have to include in the traditional count every single aspiring author who ever wrote a query letter without landing a publishing deal, along with their current $0 writing income. After all, their same-stage indie peers who finished manuscripts and wanted to see them published, already published them, and right now, are being counted in the indie totals."
(http://authorearnings.com/report/may-...)
As far as genre goes, I do believe that you can make a practical living in pretty much any genre except for some of the outliers like poetry (which is unfortunate since that's my first love). You do need to be careful of the tropes in some sub-genres because they can be so deeply embedded in that subgenre's core readership; that is, the writers have to resolve the modern inner conflict of business vs their art.

Here's a really instructive genre analysis that authorearnings.com ran on romance.. You could even answer questions like "how often do I have to publish to keep sales momentum?" and "At what price are most books getting the best ROI?"






Here's the subgenre breakdown:




So how much do these guys earn and how many of them are there?



(http://authorearnings.com/2016-rwa-pa...)


message 22: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1022 comments Wow I guess I never realized how big romance is. Amazing!


Elizabeth ♛Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛  (pinkhairedwannabe) | 65 comments Meanwhile literary fiction is pretty small, and I'm assuming that counts historical fiction and that's all I write...


message 24: by Aiden (new)

Aiden Bailey (aidenlbailey) | 76 comments I think I might stop watching this post. While all very fascinating, I don't want numbers and facts to stop me wanting to aim for the top. I might not get there, but I'm going to give it my best shot.


message 25: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Tara wrote: "Lol so very true. Better to write for the joy of it!"

Absolutely. I have been saying this all along.


message 26: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Alex G wrote: "I did some # crunching.

Total # of authors on Amazon
75,943 Indie Authors
123,371 Small/Medium Publisher Authors
   1,822 Amazon Imprint Authors
  35,457 Big Five Authors
  57,498 Uncategorized
-..."

Thanks for the # crunch Alex.


message 27: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Hey, I'm pretty sure that Anton Slayne is about to fall in love...

(However there will be numerous hurdles before true love can finally win through in the end...)


message 28: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Graeme Rodaughan wrote: "Hey, I'm pretty sure that Anton Slayne is about to fall in love..."

-:)


message 29: by Lyra (new)

Lyra Shanti (lyrashanti) | 3 comments That's it. I'm writing romance from now on. No more sci-fi for me! ;)

I actually knew how big romance was. I could tell that from watching my romance genre author friends when they have talked about their sales and when I saw their reviews, etc. Also, mystery thrillers do really well. But alas, I'm not much into writing that genre. I do sprinkle romance in everything I write, but truthfully, you can only write what your heart tells you to do. At least, that's how I am.


message 30: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14922 comments Lyra wrote: " you can only write what your heart tells you to do. At least, that's how I am. ..."

Many probably have similar attitude.
Anyhow it's not like every romance author is rolling in dough, far from that -:)


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