Last year, New Zealanders purchased 5.3 million printed books — not bad for a country of just 4.6 million people, but a long way behind Australia. While Kiwis purchased an average of 1.3 print books per person, the Aussie average was 2.3. (24.5 million people bought 56.4 million books.)
Where the figures get really interesting is in the number of ebooks sold. Almost every Aussie also bought an ebook each last year: 22.4 million sold, or the equivalent of 28% of total book sales. Ebook sales for New Zealand are harder to measure because we have no country-specific Amazon store so most of our purchases go through either amazon.com (the US) or amazon.com.au (Australia). Still, even without figures from Amazon, Apple and Kobo sold 1.3 million ebooks here in 2016 — which makes up around 20% of total book sales. Given Amazon’s market penetration overseas, I suspect the real number of ebooks sold here is at least double that figure.
Print Book Sales
all book sales
| New Zealand
| 5-Country Total:
*(New Zealand ebook total only includes Apple & Kobo stores; Because Amazon has no country-specific store for New Zealand, Kindle ebooks are purchased in NZ through Amazon.com and thus included in the US total)
The figures above come from yet another brilliant Author Earnings survey, this time of the top five English-language countries the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
As usual, there’s tons of fascinating data in the report for both writers and publishers. It’s all clearly illustrated and presented from a non-partisan perspective, but one graph in particular caught my eye:
The report’s authors note:
That represents a wildly dramatic shift in fortune for non-Big Five traditional publishers; three years ago, their combined $ ebook sales were less than half of what the Big Five’s were.
A detailed breakdown of precisely who those “small or medium publishers” really are is promised in a future report.
… “Do you realize how much are you paying for the services provided by your publisher?”
For a middle-aged writer, a publishing contract in today’s standard form will likely last well over 100 years. The book’s US copyright will last for the remaining years of the author’s life plus 70 years thereafter and so will the publishing contract. Copyrights in other nations are of similar duration.
Under a typical publishing contract, the author will be paying others over 80% of the retail revenues from ebook sales and licenses. If print books continue to be a mass market product for the next 100 years, the author will be paying others 85-95% of retail revenues.
Of course, the author won’t be writing checks to these other parties. They’ll pay themselves before the publisher sends any money to the author, but the financial result is the same as if the author were writing the checks.
Those percentages are fixed under a standard publishing contract signed today and, regardless of what happens in the future, nothing in that contract obliges the publisher to change the royalty structure included in the contract until it terminates along with the copyright in 100 years.
Virtually everything about today’s book business other than stories and storytellers will evolve in 100 years. Does it really make sense for an author to contractually commit her stories to an organization that will almost certainly cease to exist in a form she would recognize before that contractual commitment expires?
from The Passive Voice,
A Lawyer’s Thoughts on Authors,
Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing
Should you opt for indie publishing or go the traditional route? There’s no easy answer. Every author has to make his/her own decision. I’ve made mine, so consider me biased. But also consider the following words from Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
(If you’ve not come across her before, Rusch is a best-selling author of science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, mainstream fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional romance. She writes under her own name and several pseudonyms. (Here’s a list of her books.) She’s also an editor, publisher and inveterate blogger.)
… if you want a career as a writer, if you don’t want to have a day job, if you only want to write, then it seems to me the safest path to take is the indie path. You’ll have more opportunity. You can work hard and publish a lot and make money doing so.
Will every indie writer make six-figures per year? Hell, no. Nor will every traditionally published writer. But what this particular Author Earnings report shows is that if you want the chance of making six-figures or more per year with your writing, the best publishing path is indie.
(Provided you continue to learn your craft, are a damn fine storyteller, have excellent covers, do the right amount of marketing … and on and on and on.)
Is it guaranteed that you’ll even make a living? Not on either road. But that hypothetical writer that Hugh and Data Guy mention in the front of their report, the one standing with a manuscript in hand, trying to decide which road to take? That writer should ask himself: Do I want to keep my day job for the rest of my life? Or do I want the chance to be a full-time writer?
If he wants a chance at being a full-time writer, he needs to learn how to be an indie writer.
I think it’s that simple.
And that hard.
A gentle reminder from Joe Konrath …
This post goes out to no one in particular for no particular reason. Maybe it will motivate some. Maybe it will make others think a little bit. Maybe it will irritate you. But it’s good, tested advice, and worth repeating.
1. Nobody owes you a living. I’m old school, and I busted my ass to get where I am. But I don’t feel any sense of entitlement. Yeah, I worked hard. Maybe I’ve got talent. But I don’t deserve readers, and neither do you.
2. Success is mostly due to luck. You can do everything right, and still not be satisfied with the state of your career. That’s life. No one ever said this would be fair, fun, or easy.
3. Stop whining. The internet is forever. No one likes a person who constantly complains. Even if you feel that bemoaning (insert whatever here) is justified, it will always be linked to you if someone Googles your name.
4. Don’t Google your name. What people think of you is their business, not yours. Remember, one of life’s greatest journeys is overcoming insecurity and learning to truly not give a shit.
5. Never respond to criticism. It will make things worse. And if you apologize, it will get even more worser. Keep out of any discussion about you and your work. You may think you know better, but you don’t.
6. Remember your Serenity Prayer. Fix what you can change, accept what you can’t fix, and learn to know the difference between the two. If it is beyond your control, drink a beer, do yoga, go for a run, or bitch to a close friend where it can’t be seen online. And if you can’t stop dwelling on your bad fortune;
7. Quit. The world will keep turning without your work. If writing and publishing is so traumatic, go use your time doing something else you can derive some pleasure from. Life is too short.
Read Joe’s original post.
Chris Syme of CKSyme Media Group has some advice for authors:
The book marketing sector, more than any I have ever worked in, is full of bad marketing advice.
In a guest post on Writer Beware, Chris takes on a few of the more popular scams.
Research shows that tweets containing one or more hashtags are 55% more likely to be retweeted than tweets that don’t. So the more hashtags, the better. Right?
Other research documents what you might call “hashtag fatigue”. When you use more than two hashtags, your engagement actually drops by an average of 17 percent.
Not a day goes by that I don’t see this scam retweeted by several authors, maybe because they promised to help promote the service for more free tweets that will “reach millions of people generating a truly astonishing amount of traffic.” All these hashtag-laden tweets do is annoy people. To the savvy social media user, they reek of stupidity.
Buy thousands of followers
Chris documents another well-known scam in marketing circles; fake accounts that lure thousands of u
nsuspecting followers. These followers are then on-sold as tweeting platforms with supposedly massive reach.
She tried a test. $19 for 375,000 followers. Result: zero sales and zero new Twitter followers.
<blockquote”>Scam artists know what they are doing. They are playing on peoples’ pain points and ignorance. They can build fake followings completely on accounts that follow back automatically. Keep in mind that all you need to start a Twitter account is an email address. It’s an ugly, dark business.
Book promotion — for a price
She also takes issue with some book promotion sites. There are good ones — she lists a few — and plenty of dodgy ones.
It is impossible to list all the suspect author marketing services out there … [but generally]these sites ask for money for their suspect services. There is no information on their “about” pages that validates their expertise or existence, just blabbing about the reach of their audience. They are not published authors or even legitimate marketing services. They are product-only.
Very much a case of author beware!
An illuminating post from Michael Alvear at Digital Book World:
As an author, book marketer and social media specialist, I cannot think of a single more wasteful thing an author can do for book sales than to market on Facebook. Put simply, there is no evidence that Facebook can sell books, unless you’re a celebrity with a mass following. There is, however, plenty of evidence that Facebook is both a waste of time and money if you’re an unknown or midlist author.
To understand why Facebook is so demonstrably bad at selling books, you have to understand two key concepts that agents, publishers and marketing experts fail to mention whenever they encourage (and sometimes force) authors to build their “platforms:”
Original post …
Hugh Howey, writing in Publishers Weekly;
The hardest part of getting a book published is the actual writing. All it takes to see this is the number of people who dream of publishing a book but never manage to hammer out a rough draft. I spent 20 years trying to write my first novel before I finally pulled it off. It’s not unusual for an aspiring writer to struggle for years and never produce a finished product to submit to agents or editors.
Last year, nearly a quarter of American adults didn’t read a single book–hardback, paperback or e-book–a figure that’s almost tripled since 1978.
These figures come from this Pew Research Center report (PDF), which also shows that e-reading is on the rise.
- 28% of adults read an e-book in 2014 (up from 17% in 2011 and 23% in 2012)
- 69% read a print book
- 14% listened to an audio book
- 4% of readers are “e-book only”
Overall, 76% of adults read a book in some format over the previous 12 months. The typical American adult read or listened to 5 books in the past year, and the average for all adults was 12
books. Neither the mean nor median number of books read has changed significantly over the past few years.
- 50% of Americans own a dedicated handheld device–either a tablet computer or an e-reader
- 92% of adults have a cellphone
- 55% have a smartphone
- 75% have a desktop or laptop computer
E-book readers who own tablets or e-readers are very likely to read e-books on those devices—but those who own computers or cellphones sometimes turn to those platforms, too.
Of e-book readers:
- 57% use a dedicated e-reader (up from 41% in 2011)
- 55% use a tablet (up from 23% in 2011)
- 29% use a computer (down from 42% in 2011)
- 32% use a cellphone (up from 28% in 2011)
(Clearly, e-book readers use multiple devices.)
Though e-books are rising in popularity, print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits: Among adults who read at least one book in the past year, just 5% said they read an e-book in the last year without also reading a print book.
52% — Author reputation
49% — Personal recommendation
45% — Price
37% — Book Reviews
22% — Cover/Blurb
14% — Advertising (including online)
From the 2010 Survey of Book-Buying Behavior,
presented at BookExpo America — 2011