Claude Fortehomme recently penned this blog entry making the claim that Amazon stated “only 40 self-published writers are a success.”
In her definition, “success” means having sold more than a million copies.
She further states that there are “hundreds of thousands that don’t.”
I know many writers who haven’t sold a million copies of their books yet. However, they are still buying houses, putting their kids through college, swimming in their swimming pools, sailing their boats, driving their cars, taking vacations and cruises, buying vacation homes, and still are able to pay the bills and put food on the table.
A little misdirection called “cherry picking.” That’s when you choose only the numbers that support your argument, while ignoring the rest that completely sink your hypothesis. (Take a look at the GOP’s use of science…)
What Amazon actually said was, “Over the last five years, close to 40 independent authors have sold more than a million copies of their e-books on Amazon.”
That wasn’t a lament about the small number of independent authors who were making a living, it was bragging about how the number of independent authors making it big is growing.
And yes, there are thousands of writers who don’t sell anywhere near that number of books. I happen to be one of them. Not only that, I am definitely at the bottom of the heap. (I hope to change that status.)
But what is the definition of success here?
If an author sells 10,000 books, the publishing industry considers that a hit. An author whose book sells 10,000 copies is likely to get another contract with that publisher.
But how about an independent author?
Let’s look again at that 10,000 copies sold.
If an independent author is pricing their ebook at $4.99 per copy, then that 10,000 copies makes a gross profit of $49,900.
Amazon—and other retailers—takes a 70% cut. That means for that author, the 10,000 books just made $34,930.
That $35K is not chump change. It isn't as much as the median household income in the United States, but it is over the poverty line. Many independent authors would be thrilled with sales like this, because it means they could write full time instead of mucking along in cube-farm hell. Yes, Ms. Fortehomme was absolutely correct in that many independent writers are not getting rich off their work—but the same can be said of many traditionally-published authors. What is important is that more independent writers are likely to make enough money to support themselves without another job than traditionally published authors.
Want to find out just how much independent authors are really making? Then go to this website and start studying: Author Earnings.