Update: Sorry for the incomplete episode. The entire show is now on there!
Tonight our stalwart hosts discussed the changes to Kindle Unlimited, uploading pre-orders directly to stores, and what we’ve learned about writing in series. This was the meat of our show and we each shared three things that we’ve done (either intentionally or inadvertently) that have helped our series gain traction and attract diehard fans. We also talked about when it makes sense to abandon a series that just isn’t performing, open-ended episodic series versus ones that have a clear overarching storyline, and how to develop characters that keep people coming back for more.
On this week’s show, we chatted with fantasy author Amelia Smith about a bunch of data that she crunched based on the Author Earnings Survey over at Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings Report website. The survey and the raw data have been online for a while, but nobody seemed to have tackled putting it together into useful information until Amelia came along. We asked her a bunch of questions about what she found in regard to author income, books on sale, and whether indie or trad publishing is more likely to get a person to a living wage (which she defined as the U.S. average of $32,000 a year).
Here’s some of what we covered:
What is the Author Earnings site and where does this survey come in?
Who responded (indie, trad published, hybrid, small press, etc.) and how many authors were interviewed?
How many books do people have out on average before they reach that living wage?
As Amelia says in her analysis, “The majority of authors will never make a living at this, but chances increase both with number of books written and with years in the game. They get as good as 50/50.”
Were authors of certain genres more likely to make a living than others (not surprisingly, lots of romance authors of all kinds are doing well, and very few short story, poetry, memoir, etc. folks are making significant money)?
What was the common theme with the failure stories (authors with a lot of books out but a low income)?
Did it matter what year people started publishing in, or could they put out a lot of books in their first year and get to that living wage quickly?
Were slower writers penalized because of the 30/90-cliff and the way the Amazon algorithms work?
Were small presses helpful or were most indie authors better off on their own?
Amelia’s own experience with Netgalley (she mentioned the Patchwork Press Co-Op as a way to buy into Netgalley, a big company that assists with getting book reviews, for less than an individual membership)
Tonight we interviewed hugely popular space opera author, Joshua Dalzelle. The guy doesn’t have a website, an Amazon bio, and he’s only recently started a mailing list, but he sure sells books. Here’s some of what we discussed tonight:
How Joshua got this far without a website, and are websites/social media/mailing lists really needed, or are they overrated?
The state of space opera right now (is it more popular than ever?)
What makes space opera space opera? Versus some other type of science fiction?
Light-hearted sci-fi adventures versus darker, techier sci-fi–is there room for both?
Cover art that portrays the tone of the book as well as branding the series
Hey, everyone! We shared a lot of information today. We answered a few reader questions and then jumped into Lindsay’s notes from some of the panels at the RWA Con. The topics included selling more books on Apple’s iBooks, setting up multi-author boxed sets, using pre-orders to hit bestseller lists (such as USA Today and the NY Times), and a handful of mistakes to avoid as an author (these were different than some of the mistakes we’ve already shared in the past).
Here’s a closer look at the notes and the links we mentioned on the podcast:
Making the USA Today bestseller list with a multi-author boxed set