Monday, February 17, 2014

AiIP: The Value Proposition

I'm going to open somewhat traditionally, with two small notes:

First: There are a lot of links in this. Generally, I use a fair amount to links (as most blogs do) as reference or to cite something- however, for this post, I highly recommend you click most or all of them, should the topic of modern publishing interest you.

Second: I am borrowing/plagiarizing a term from Chuck Wendig: Author-Publisher. I feel this encompasses much more than self-publisher, even if it is splitting an awfully fine hair. To whit, the author runs the business of writing and also the business of publishing.

With those out of the way, let's move on, shall we?


In my last post in this space, I examined if self-publishing is really worth it. I wondered if that post was worth it, relevant or if anyone cares.

Turns out, they do (remember when I said to click links? Click that one).

Hugh Howey, as is his wont, finds yet another way to emphasize self-publishing is the way of the future and if you choose any other way you are an idiot. This time, it comes via ostensibly reliable data, and hard numbers proving the aforementioned point as well as ZOMG THASSALOTTA CASH!

Obviously Hugh has done alright for himself, and obviously he and I disagree on several points, and this is one of them. As I say in those linked posts, the fact that you can make money as an author-publisher is news to zero people. Not people working on books, dreaming of making it. Not people who have finished books and are submitting them madly to agents and publishing houses. Not people who have published books through those houses, not the people who work for those houses, not my mom, no one is surprised by this.

One day, my writing will allow me to do this.
So this is where I get off Howey's bizarre train of self-confirmation. That author earnings page was sent to me by several (quite well intentioned) individuals with the basic subject of "this changes everything", when in fact, it changes nothing. It changes nothing because it is so fundamentally flawed and biased, it is actually worse then useless.

How do I mean that? Well, if one was so inclined, they could pick apart the 'data' piece by piece (click that on too), but I really want to tackle the one piece of completely misleading information is this: it is based on one day of Amazon's data. From this, he's extrapolated data to reach annual numbers.

I cannot begin to tell you how stupid this is, but I will try.

If you took my own data, on my best day (when I, you know, had a book on Amazon), I hit somewhere in the mid-80's of SF on Amazon. This translated to something like 30 books in one day, at a price of $4.99. At 70%, I made around $105. So if the snapshot was of that day, the 'data' would say I made almost $40,000 last year from being an author-publisher.

I did not, as significantly more days would suggest I made exactly $0.00 as an author-publisher.

Now, perhaps in the amalgamation, this is fine, as it's not analyzing DES Richard's data, but publishing as a whole. But overall, it still only serves to confirm a bias- not provide any useful, actual information.

In conclusion, I will reiterate what I have said before, and will say again, I'm sure: If you want to help the cause of author-publishers, show them how to be successful, emphasize quality in their works and champion the ones who do it right. Don't just confirm your own bias over and over again using flawed data.


D.E.S. Richard is the author of 3024AD and various short stories. You can read (more) of his ramblings and musings on his blog, or follow him on Twitter. In addition to reading and writing, feel free to talk about food, drink, dress or any old movies.