I didn't do my Indie Life post on Wednesday like I was supposed to a) because I forgot, and b) once I remembered it, I just really didn't feel like it. But I came across these two posts from IO9, and thought they would make a good post under the Indie Life banner:
This chart ought to make the publishing industry very nervous
Most Amazon bestselling authors aren't making minimum wage
The short version of these two articles is that as a whole indie authors have a much higher volume of sales, but aren't making much money doing it.
In the first article, much is made of the flawed methodology of the completely unscientific study, and it only takes into account ebook sales through Amazon. But it does provide some anecdotal evidence for the populist rise of indie authors against the elite establishment of the big publishers. The driving force behind all those indie sales, doesn't seem to have much to do with quality of writing, but has a lot to do with price. After all, most indie authors are selling their work for much less than traditionally published authors (who have no choice in the matter as their prices are set by the publishers), and price must be playing a large part in buyers' decisions.
In the second article looks at how much money top indie and traditional authors are making. According to the chart, the vast majority of writers, indie or traditional, are making less than minimum wage from their writing. But according to this chart, the median income of independent authors is still higher than those from traditional publishers. This is most likely due to the royalty rates. I know that with Amazon's KDP, authors can receive up to 70% of the purchase price, but with traditional authors at can widely vary, but get no where near 70% or even the 35% offered by KDP for books priced lower than $2.99. I think independent authors, particularly the ones who exclusively publish ebooks, have a faster turn around time, and are able to produce more books, than traditional authors, which allows them to have more things on offer at any given time. But what it really comes down to is that very few - maybe 1% to 5% - of authors are making a living wage, and only 1% of those writers are getting rich doing it.
The point is, writing a novel, even a best seller isn't, the lottery ticket many people think it is. In fact, I have greater faith in Powerball than I do in being able to quit my day job to write full time. This holds true for any author, whether they're on their own, with a small publisher, or one of the Big Five.
But we don't do it for the money, do we? I can't think of any writer who I enjoy* reading who comes across as putting the money at #1 on their list of priorities. Even wildly popular authors still care more about telling a good story more than making huge sums of money. And that's all I can ask of myself as I move forward.
*Note, I said any writer I "enjoy" reading. There are more than a few big name writers (not naming names, but they know who they are) who have obviously moved into the realm of DGAF and crank out crap after crap because their name drives the sales more than the quality of writing.