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What’s Your Income, Indies?


Discoverability is one of those buzzwords – everyone wants it, but no one knows how to get it. Enter Trajectory, Publisher’s Weekly reports, an “algorithm platform” that can map a book’s personality and create incredibly accurate book recommendations. This is a “big step forward in book discovery,” said Trajectory CEO Jim Bryant. The program sounds straight out of a sci-fi flick: It uses a “Natural Language Processing Engine” to scan each sentence and turn its components into data on the book’s length, chapter, pace, intensity, mood, word type and reader age. It can even determine linguistic structure and “flow of sentiment” based on keywords.

This service comes at a price for eBook retailers, of course – they pay Trajectory for book recommendations. The company has gotten the ball rolling, scanning 30,000 titles in Harper Collins’ catalog; 1,000 public domain classics have also been scanned. To see these high-tech book recommendations in action, visitors only need click on the “Discover Great Books” tab on the Trajectory website to see a book’s word cloud, attributes and other data; publishers, on the other hand, can see books’ fingerprints and compare it to others. Right now, Trajectory’s sci-fi book scans aren’t available to indie authors, but that’s in the works – the company wants to ink a deal with self-publishing platforms like Smashwords–and IndieReader!–to make it available.


For your dose of girl power, look no farther than this infographic, which lists the female writers honored with a Nobel Prize in Literature. The more recent winners: Alice Munro, Doris Lessing, and Toni Morrison.


Usually, it’s impolite to turn out your pockets and announce your income to the world. But once year, indie authors have to do it – if only to prove they actually make money. Publisher David Kudler broke down the average income for indies over at Huffington Post this week. There’s a difference between the mean and the median – and it makes for different totals. The median (the amount one average author makes, and which half of indie authors can expect to earn) is about $5,000 a year or less. The mean (the amount earned by a number of authors) is a lot higher, to account for the outliers. So while there isn’t a pot of gold waiting for most of us who go indie, it isn’t always a straight route to poverty either.

Enter Hugh Howey and his “Data Guy.” Their Author Earnings report offers some interesting takeaways, Good e-Reader reported. A few of them: 30% of eBooks don’t have ISBNs and are therefore virtually “invisible” to official reports; 33% of all Amazon eBook sales are indie; 20% of consumer dollars are being spent on indie eBooks sold on Amazon; and 40% of the eBook income earned by authors is going to indies. Mid-year, indies slipped ahead of the traditional guys in all eBook earnings on Amazon – to 40%, compared to their 35%. As far as Kindle Unlimited goes – indies earned 8% of their income from KU borrows, averaging half borrows, half purchases. For some snazzy graphs and charts about the report, click here.


If all this talk about making money has you panicked, calm down. Sales don’t happen overnight, and indie authors have to learn to be patient to think long-term. Over at Indie Author News this week, indie author Susan Kaye Quinn offered some wise steps that’ll take you from the beginning of your career to eventual success. Her main point? Everything is up to you – from what you write, to how you market, to whether you bother with social media. But every author needs to focus on one thing more than anything else: Writing, and then writing some more. “There are some that say they want to traditionally publish so that they can concentrate on their writing, but the truth is that indie published authors should be doing exactly that: focusing on writing their novels like it’s the dream job that it is,” she wrote.

The basic gist? Make a five-year plan that focuses on five-year, one-year and six month goals – and stick to it. Don’t worry about pumping out dozens of books – worry more about quality. A side note – successful indies spent 24% more time per word, and write 31% more words per day than their less-successful peers. “What this adds up to is more time writing (and less promotion). The best way to double sales? Publish another book,” she wrote. And if you do market, be creative about it. Most importantly, be patient and keep working. Build your backlist and interestingly – hop around genres and consider every format so you can dip your toes in different markets. “Grow and stretch yourself as a writer. You have a long career ahead of you – craft it purposefully and you will be happier in the end,” she concluded.


Writing your first book? Love board games? This infographic combines the two.


Every has been talking about Kindle Unlimited to the point of exhaustion. Here’s another perspective – subscribers to eBook services KU, Oyster and Scribd aren’t really saving money by signing up. A Neilsen Book survey revealed that these readers are still buying plenty of other books – more so than people who don’t use these services, the Digital Reader reported. Apparently, 4% of those who buy books already subscribe; add in Amazon Prime members and that number jumps to 10%.

Subscribers spent $58 a month on books, and non-subscribers about $34; subscribers were the service  – men more so than women. So what does this mean? Nate Hoffelder’s conclusion is that should publishers (and smart indie authors!) pour their books into KU, or Scribd, or Oyster, the “profligate book buyers” who make up the subscriber base wouldn’t have a reason to buy individual books. In other words, “publishers are right to be concerned.”

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