This week I’m going to hit the topic square on the nose. Traditional publishers are still buying books, though no author I could access was boasting about the money they were making. So, encouraged by some industry information provided to members of Sisters in Crime, I thought I’d round up some information for you about how authors are being impacted these days.
- The anti-trust lawsuit between Apple and the big five publishers against Amazon has all been settled. The losers are the authors. Since all distributors, including Amazon, will now allow publishers to set whatever eBook price they want, it isn’t uncommon to see higher prices for eBooks than for the print versions. E-book sales declined 12.3% over the first 10 months of 2015 compared to the previous year (American Association of Publishers analytics do not include indie and small press titles.) Physical book sales are rising but of course, authors are already hemmed in by all the costs associated with print books that leave them with a very small percentage of the net. Apple must now pay out $400 million in refunds to e-book customers which can only be used to buy new e-books. So, maybe that influx of incentives will actually boost e-book sales this year. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-07/how-apple-and-big-publishers-pushed-e-books-toward-failure)
- “The Guardian” magazine reported in September of 2015 that US authors earned less than federal poverty level incomes. The statistics were provided by the Authors Guild and included surveys of authors begun in 2009. Median income for an American author in 2014 was $8,000, a decrease of 24% over 2009. Earnings for full time authors dropped 30% between 2009 and 2014, while median incomes of part-time writers fell 38% in the same period. Don’t be disheartened: British writers experienced a 29% decline in 2013 over incomes reported in 2005. (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/15/income-for-us-authors-falls-below-federal-poverty-line-survey?CMP=share_btn_fb)
I know I’ve said this many times. My clients hear it from me, too. If you are writing to publish your work, you need to be aware of the financial picture. That’s why I encourage everyone to sit down and be sure of their goals, work out a budget (that doesn’t bankrupt the household) and to budget for time, energy and skill set, too.
It may take a few extremely well written and edited books to get your income rolling, but if being a paid published author is the dream, then don’t let the statistics and industry shenanigans stop you. Be aware of what’s going on, keep your expectations aligned with the realities, but don’t give up on your dream. After all, a good many authors were told not to give up their day jobs. Authors named Tom Clancy, and Jack Canfield, and Janet Evanovich, to name a few.
The only way to really lose, is to quit. So keep reading, keep writing, keep learning and keep submitting your best stuff!