Why do you hate indie authors?

Hugh Howey once again shares another interesting perspective on the indie publishing revolution, in this case a refutation of the frequent criticisms of the Author Earnings reports methodology, from the unnamed Data Guy behind those reports.

I do apologize to those whom this information proves troubling, but it is a fair view of what is happening in the world of ebooks today. And all the trends we’ve seen point in the same direction.

via Data Guy on the Author Earnings Methodology | Hugh Howey.

Howey’s brief quote there interests me, because it raises the simple question, why are so many in the industry so vindictively determined that indie publishing can not exist? I see the same fatuous counter arguments placed against the existence of indie publishing again and again. The data is unreliable! Jesus H Christ folks just spend five minutes on the internet looking at the hundreds of indie authors clearly doing very well with their work. They’re just a few needles in a haystack! All success in any creative field is like being a needle in a haystack. Do you use the very rare success of traditionally published authors to condemn the traditional publishing industry? Most indie authors sell no books! Most authors FULL STOP sell no books. They spend years making submissions and in slush piles and learn nothing. Yes, you might claim it’s better to publish nothing until an agent or editor approves you. Personally, I think its better to give that power to readers.

Indie publishing is real, it’s here to stay, and its tranformative effect on the industry is just beginning. So the question remains, why do you hate it so much?


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

11 thoughts on “Why do you hate indie authors?

  1. I just got back from RWA this morning. I’ve never been so inundated with indie success stories. Besides seeing two Self-Published books win major awards the first year self-pubbed books were eligible for nomination, I also spoke to at least 20 authors who were making over 6 figures a year, and I didn’t recognize any of their names.

    At one event, I was speaking to two authors I’d just met. I asked how things were going for them. Both were very shy about saying anything, and I suspected it wasn’t because they weren’t performing well. They looked at each other (they were friends) and both admitted to having made over $1.5 MILLION each last year. And on pace to do the same this year.

    I had people telling me they just had their first 5-figure month. And Liliana Hart filled me in with a dozen other names of people going gangbusters. This isn’t even mentioning the people who bashfully told me they’d published their first works in the last year and had “only” sold ten or twenty thousand copies thus far.

    The people claiming this isn’t happening are trying very hard for the word not to get out, because they understand the effect is only going to snowball. I also spoke to several traditionally published authors who are leaving to go indie. Two Hachette authors had very interesting things to say. They both regretted they couldn’t sign my petition for fear of reprisal. It confirmed suspicions I’ve had on where many Hachette authors stand on that issue.


  2. I think many authors and industry professionals, even looking at your comment here, still basically say to themselves “it isn’t true, Hugh is…making things up.” Seems absurd at this point but I think that’s the case. But I think we’re past the tipping point now where more people see the reality than not.


    1. And these changes have only begun. I can see self-pubbed e-books taking 85% of total market share in 20 years. If that sounds crazy, look at what percentage of online reading is done on Facebook rather than all the curated and paid-writer sites. People have no problem staying engaged with one another for hours and hours. We don’t care about the source, just the content and the connections.


      1. That’s clearly the trend we’re moving towards. Again, it’s difficult for people to put themselves in the paradigm of social media when they’ve been educated in the model of traditional publishing. But I know in interviews and discussions with folks in the tech industry, we always end up talking about publishing as almost a vestigial part of a mass media landscape that no longer exists. That’s of course why Jeff Bezos picked it as the easiest industry for Amazon to disrupt. It’s taken him, what, 20 years? Yes, I can see the job being done in another 20.

        Where would you see the trends on author earnings at that point? Will indie writers still be making a good living?


  3. Very inspiring to hear about these developments. I have likewise been doing some research, based off of a link you posted Mr. Walters, and looked at Correia’s webpage. It certainly seems that traditional publishing houses are desperate to keep the lid on this thing. My own tactic, based upon advice from my wife who is Korean and understands social media well, has been to attempt to serialize stories within a Speculative world (and, I daresay an ergodic thread, if I may be so bold.) She said writers in Korea have gone viral this way and subsequently been able to self-publish to a waiting public. Thoughts?


  4. No one hates indie authors. This straw man is something you guys have created to rile up your troops and get attention. The Authors Earning report has been debunked by so many respected analysts that it’s not worth discussing. It’s one thing to say that indie publishing is a successful alternative to trad publishing and worth pursuing, and that there are notable success stories — especially among trained, highly motivated authors — most of them with established name from trad pub backgrounds. But when you go out there selling Big Riches and Easy Success to millions of gullible amateurs, you’re doing them no favors and only enriching the people who make money by selling editorial and marketing services. And when you attack traditional publishing–and traditionally published authors — with misinformation and a disdain bordering on fanaticism — you only end up preaching to your own choir, as the mainstream world tunes you out.


    1. A lot of people do hate indie authors, sadly. Judging by your word choice – attack, disdain, misinformation, fanaticism – you seem to be among them! Debunk the Author Earnings report all you want, it’s one narrative fro the observable facts. Lots and lots of writers making a lot of money self publishing at exactly the time mainstream authors are going penniless. No on is selling Big Riches and Easy Success, again, you’re using those words. No one else. And come on – traditional publishing is hardly the “mainstream” in the face of Amazon, Google, Apple and the other tech companies that eclipse them by orders of magnitude.



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