Lies, Damned Lies, and Publishing Statistics?

March 7, 2017 | By | Reply More

The famous Author’s Earnings web site have just published their latest free report which makes very interesting reading for indie authors (or, indeed, writers signed to the big legacy publishers).

They compile their stats via a search engine crawl of the Amazon online book shop to see what is where in the charts, then produce some amazing stats from the monster-large data crawl.

Here’s a few of their conclusions…

Our look at the wider world of e-book retailers tells us that the rise of e-book sales in general, and indie publishing in particular, are not limited to the US nor to a single retailer (Amazon); they are international, industry-wide phenomena. The US currently leads the world in both e-book penetration rate and the indie share of that market, but other e-book markets are starting to catch up: particularly the other 4 major English-language ones. Taken together, e-book sales in these 4 additional markets add a combined 25% to the US-only total.

And, somewhat counter-intuitively, self-published indie authors are proving to be far more capable of taking advantage of their global digital reach to achieving commensurate international sales than traditionally published authors are.

Back in our October 2015 UK report, we made the then-surprising (to us) discovery that best-selling indie authors in the US were far more likely to also be best sellers in the UK than their best-selling traditionally published US counterparts. The same held true in the opposite direction as well, with best selling UK indies outperforming best selling traditionally published UK authors when it comes to their cross-Atlantic sales in the US market.

In practice, it’s true that the very topmost handful of decades-old traditionally published mega brand names do indeed see their titles launched internationally to great effect across all markets. These long-established megasellers such as Patterson, Roberts, King, Baldacci, and Rowling (who, incidentally, held on to her digital rights and self-published her e-books and audiobooks through her own Pottermore imprint) are truly international best sellers in every book format.

But below that top fraction of 1% who receive coordinated international releases and global marketing campaigns for their titles, most traditionally published authors are lucky to become best sellers in a single market only, if ever at all. And this goes doubly for authors of genre fiction, where the overwhelming majority of all consumer purchases–over 70%–are now in e-book format.

The larger the proportion of sales in an author’s genre that are now digital, the more of a disadvantage being traditionally published seems to impose upon authors hoping to also achieve significant ebook sales outside one’s home country.

One of the other interesting implications of this is that authors in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have the most to gain by indie-publishing their digital editions. For them, the overwhelmingly largest market for their books lies overseas–and it’s one where they absolutely cannot afford to be handicapped by a traditional publisher’s local-market-oriented, print-first focus.

You can read the complete report over at

Lies, Damned Lies, and Publishing Statistics?.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Publishing Statistics?


Category: Writer's Dojo

About the Author ()

I have been working as a full-time author publishing fantasy and science fiction novels for HarperCollins for the last seven years.

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