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What is a secret is how much. Is it changing a lot? Has most of the change already happened? What does the future look like?
A few individual authors have made their sales data public, but not enough to paint an accurate picture. What data we do have often comes in the form of surveys, many of which rely on extremely limited sampling methodologies and also questionable analyses [ link ]. This lack of data has been frustrating.
If writing your first novel is the hardest part of becoming an author, figuring out what to do next runs a close second. Manuscripts in hand, some writers today are deciding to forgo six-figure advances in order to self-publish [ link ].
Or is signing away lifetime rights to a work in the digital age crazy? What used to be an easy decision please, anyone, take my book!
As someone who has walked away from incredible offers after agonizing mightily about doing soI have longed for greater transparency so that up-and-coming authors can make better-informed decisions. I imagine established writers who are considering their next projects share some of these same concerns.
Other entertainment industries tout the earnings of their practitioners. Sports stars, musicians, actors—their salaries are often discussed as a matter of course. This is less true for authors, and it creates unrealistic expectations for those who pursue writing as a career. Now with every writer needing to choose between self-publishing and submitting to traditional publishers, the decision gets even more difficult.
When I faced these decisions, I had to rely on my own sales data and nothing more. Luckily, I had charted my daily sales reports as my works marched from outside the top one million right up to 1 on Amazon.
Using these snapshots, I could plot the correlation between rankings and sales. Gradually, it became possible to closely estimate how much an author was earning simply by looking at where their works ranked on public lists [ link ].
This data provided one piece of a complex puzzle. The rest of the puzzle hit my inbox with a mighty thud last week. I received an email from an author with advanced coding skills who had created a software program that can crawl online bestseller lists and grab mountains of data.
This program, however, is able to do in a day what would take hundreds of volunteers with web browsers and pencils a week to accomplish. The first run grabbed data on nearly 7, e-books from several bestselling genre categories on Amazon.
Subsequent runs have looked at data for 50, titles across all genres. And now we finally have some answers. The same people rarely point out that all bestsellers are outliers and that the vast majority of those who go the traditional route are never published at all.
Well, now we have a large enough sample of data to help glimpse the truth.
The first thing that jumped out at me when I opened my email was these next two charts, which our data guru had placed side-by-side.
What caught my eye was how they seem to be inversely correlated: On the left, we have a chart showing the average rating of 7, bestselling e-books. Both charts break the books up into the same five categories.
From the left, they are: But the staggering number of reviews involved for most of these books over a hundred on average across our entire sample makes each of these highly unlikely. There are a number of more plausible explanations for the nearly half a star difference in ratings, and one in particular jumped out at me, again from seeing these two charts next to one another.
Note the shortest bar in one graph correlates to the tallest in the other.English Language Arts Standards Download the standards Print this page The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (“the standards”) represent the next generation of K–12 standards designed to prepare all students for success in college, career, and life by the time they graduate from high school.
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