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Staying Motivated > Helpful statistics about self-publishing

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message 1: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Hemricourt | 5 comments A recently published survey about earning potential for self-published writers gives useful indications about makes the difference between success or failure for these authors. Some salient points available on http://www.epublishabook.com/2012/05/...


message 2: by David (new)

David Bergsland (david_bergsland) | 37 comments These are interesting stats. I think earning potential and publishing strategy is determined individually for each book and depends entirely on the niche you are targeting. My Writing In InDesign books have a tiny niche, but this book is quite profitable because I tightly controlled publishing costs and did all my marketing with social media. My new novel, I never would have guessed, has a much different niche and the marketing efforts will be very different.


message 3: by Ken (new)

Ken Consaul | 150 comments Revealing stats and an interesting site. Bookmarked for the future.
Couple of eye-openers.
Most readers don't get past page 18 of a book they start.
Fiction works are considered a success if they sell 5000 copies.


message 4: by Florence (new)

Florence Osmund | 17 comments Interesting article. I've heard the 5,000 copies statistic that Ken refers to before. Does anyone know where that number originated?


message 5: by Ken (new)

Ken Consaul | 150 comments Florence wrote: "Interesting article. I've heard the 5,000 copies statistic that Ken refers to before. Does anyone know where that number originated?"

in the link in the OP. Its one of the other articles on the blog.


message 6: by John (new)

John Jung (jrjung) | 7 comments The Talelist survey is like a Rorschach test and different people will reach different conclusions. The 1,007 respondents might sound like a large number, but how many people saw the survey and declined completing it? The authors themselves admit their sample is not random but self-selected and that they have no way of knowing how accurately their sample represents all self-published authors. Furthermore, they commit a fundamental fallacy by presenting "correlations" of variables with sales that they interpret as evidence of "causation." Read the report with a few grains of salt!


message 7: by Lauryn (new)

Lauryn April (laurynapril) | 21 comments John wrote: "The Talelist survey is like a Rorschach test and different people will reach different conclusions. The 1,007 respondents might sound like a large number, but how many people saw the survey and dec..."

John is correct that correlation does not equal causation and that 1,000 people is actually a small survey size. None the less I still found this interesting and it did give me some things to think about that I think will help make my book a better seller. Statistics can lead to various conclusions depending on how you look at them although I wouldn't consider them quite as subjective as a Rorschach test. There is good information here that I think any writer can learn from, but I have to agree with John to read this with a few grains of salt.


message 8: by Jason (new)

Jason Dye | 5 comments "29% of the Top Earners have an agent, compared to 10%. Having an agent was correlated with earnings more than three times higher than unrepresented respondents."

What do you think? At what point would you get an agent? I'm thinking after about a year or so of self-publishing smaller e-books.


message 9: by John (new)

John Jung (jrjung) | 7 comments Do you conclude from this information that having an agent "causes" a book to earn more? Have you considered that "better" books are more likely to attract agents, and that the book quality is a bigger factor leading to higher earnings?


message 10: by Lauryn (new)

Lauryn April (laurynapril) | 21 comments I would think that better books are more likely to attract agents. But there may be something to having an agent that does help sales, for example an agent might mean better marketing which results in better sales. I think the question should not when when do you get an agent, but what is it about having an agent that makes a book more profitable.


message 11: by Jason (new)

Jason Dye | 5 comments Hmm... Thanks, John. But I'm ignorant on this. Agents have to accept their clients, right? Based on manuscripts and sellability? But authors usually seek them, right? Not so much the other way around?


message 12: by John (new)

John Jung (jrjung) | 7 comments Jason... Actually agents are difficult to get and as you noted, typically authors apply to them...they are like 'screeners' for traditional establishers name publishers. They get about 15% commission off an author's royalties or advances if they can "sell" your book to them. As an example of where to start, here is one site (I am not touting it, just using it as an example): http://www.agentquery.com/ It, or similar sites will give you more useful info. Good luck!


message 13: by Jason (new)

Jason Dye | 5 comments Thanks, John.


message 14: by Jason (new)

Jason Dye | 5 comments One thing that the article really emphasized was in getting top-notch reviews from well-known reviewers. Did I read that right? Does Amazon have its own sort of Siskel and Eberts/gatekeepers who kind of watch the doors and open the world of literature to their dedicated fans?

Or is it just that readers are more likely to take the plunge if they see more positive reviews?


message 15: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Lawston (andrewlawston) Lauryn wrote: "I would think that better books are more likely to attract agents. But there may be something to having an agent that does help sales, for example an agent might mean better marketing which results..."

Agents will not market your book. Their aim is to sell a book once, to a publisher. The publisher, retailer (and increasingly these days the author) are the ones that need to sell the book a further [insert your number here] times to readers until everyone's happy.


message 16: by Virginia (new)

Virginia Llorca | 46 comments I am a firm believer in the give away. My biggest response to a giveaway has produced the most cross sales. I feel like I am starting to get a sense for the timing and the places to promote. Of course it is a slow process. Strictly from the bare ground up.


message 17: by Jason (new)

Jason Dye | 5 comments So, Andrew, an agent is not a promoter? Because that's what I need, really. LOL


message 18: by Virginia (new)

Virginia Llorca | 46 comments Promoting is harder than writing. But you can do it yourself. You will get a feel for the timing and the right places after a few books. I've had ten cross sales from a promo that ended Tuesday night.


message 19: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Hemricourt | 5 comments @ Jason Amazon's reviewers are rated by amazon and reviews by top reviewer weighs higher in Amazon search algorythms, so it does provide some sort of pre-screening, though not by agents or publishers. Amazon's top reviewers can be found on http://www.amazon.com/review/top-revi...


message 20: by John (new)

John Jung (jrjung) | 7 comments I'm sure there are many good reviewers on Amazon, but aside from their "ratings," there isn't any background info about their 'credentials.' Is a specific reviewer someone who has also written well-received books or just an avid reader? Of course, that may not matter if their review of your book is persuasive and positive as far as encouraging people to buy it. I also wonder how an author gets a reviewer, on Amazon or elsewhere, to take the time to review my book out of all the many books that exist. One other thought is that reviews are just one method of promotion. As already mentioned by others, give-aways serve to draw attention to a book. Having a book talk/signing is another. Virginia is absolutely right that "promoting is harder than writing"... but no matter how good your book is, without promotion to the right audience, your book will be overlooked. And, getting an established publisher is not a guarantee that your book will get more than a short-lived promotion because publishers have many books to promote, and will spend more effort to promote its newest books.


message 21: by Blair (new)

Blair | 2 comments Jason wrote: ""29% of the Top Earners have an agent, compared to 10%. Having an agent was correlated with earnings more than three times higher than unrepresented respondents."

What do you think? At what point ..."


To me the article makes some interesting points but their analysis of the data is not conveyed clearly. For example, the first sentence of the above paragraph is incomplete.

If 29% of the Top Earners have agents, does this mean that 71% of the top earners don't have agents? If you either have an agent or you don't, then what is the 10% relating to? If they are the opposite of the 29%, then where is the 61% left out by what is a binary condition?

As someone mentioned, there might be a reason why one author has an agent and another author does not. It's like saying that musicians that studied at Julliard earn x times more than those that did not so we can conclude that it is something about Julliard that does it for them. You still have to pass the audition and your product still has to be good. Agents presumably filter out books they feel have no market appeal.


message 22: by John (new)

John Jung (jrjung) | 7 comments You can get the math to come out in Jason's example, if you examine all 4 possible groups.

1) Authors w/ agents who are in TOP earners (29%)
2) authors w/agents not in Top earners (71% implied).
(adds up to 100% of authors with agents)

3) Authors W/o agents who are in Top earners (10%)
4) Authors W/O agents who are Not in Top earners (90% implied)
(adds up to 100% of authors withOUT agents)


message 23: by Blair (last edited Sep 21, 2012 11:08AM) (new)

Blair | 2 comments If authors = 100% and there are four mutually exclusive types of author, then shouldn't 1, 2, 3 and 4 all add to 100%? I don't see any overlap in the four above conditions. An author is either a top earner or not and has an agent or not, while having an agent and being a top earner are not dependent terms. Therefore, we have four exclusive categories. This would be the case if we were to add up blue eyed men, non blue eyed men, blue eyed women and non blue eyed women - no possible statistical overlap of any of those four categories relating to gender and eye colour or in our case, earning bracket and representation status.

Sorry to appear pedantic on this one, I appreciate what the article has to say but I find the math poorly presented to the point that it is the article's own worst enemy.

There would have to be a missing variable if we are to arrive at the 100% figure necessary to give the statement statistical accuracy. That variable might be self published authors meaning that the 29% and the 10% only related to those authors that aren't self published - a sub set of a newly defined but not clearly stated 100%.

Either way, it's too confusing to draw too much from.


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