In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at the results of the Indie Author Income Survey and Tree to Me, a campaign asking authors to hold suppliers to account over sustainability.
In this month's podcast, Howard and I discuss the US Copyright Office's new guidance on the use of AI-generated materials in creative works, and ALLi's indie author income survey.
Indie Author Income Survey: the Results
The main story this week is one I'm not going to devote too much space to. And that's because we have a fabulous in-depth post from just two days ago. That post goes into the detail of the results of the Indie Author Income Survey. A huge thank you to the more than 2000 of you from across the globe who took part. The aim of the survey was to fill a gap in the data that has been an elephant in the room for many years. Gloomy surveys have shown author incomes decreasing for years now, with the current median income around the US$6-8,000 mark. But there has been no way of knowing how self-published authors fitted into the picture.
So ALLi commissioned a survey to find out. And the results are startling. Median income is $12,000. And for 53% of respondents, that figure is rising. And the mean average is an eye-watering $86,000. What's more, although indies have a broad and entrepreneurial portfolio, most of that income is from books.
There will be an even more in-depth report launched in June. But most exciting of all, this will be an ongoing survey, so we can follow the trends to see if indies and traditionally published authors continue to diverge in fortune. And start to unpick the reasons why.
Tree to Me: a new campaign wants authors to ask questions of publishers (and other suppliers)
This week’s news goes to press half way through London Book Fair. A full report will have to wait for next week’s news. But what I can say from the Fair so far is that sustainability is front and centre. The Sustainability Lounge is at the heart of this year’s event. And to tie in with that, the Society of Authors has launched a new campaign to encourage authors to use our position of influence to put pressure on the companies we use to publish and/or print our books in order to improve our industry’s sustainability profile.
Holding publishers to account
Tree to me is a new campaign to help authors talk to their publishers about the sustainability of their books.” Its focus is on a set of 10 questions. They’re interesting questions, many of which focus on what I would call governance. That is, they ask publishers what steps they are taking to demonstrate commitment by signing up to pledges. These might be formal schemes, such as Publishing Declares. Or they might be a commitment to Net Zero. There are also questions about transparency, in areas such as pension scheme investment. And of course there are questions about materials.
Of course, as indies, we are in an even stronger position to use our influence. We are not beholden to the services that a publisher we are contracted with decides we have to use. We can shop around. And if the company we use doesn’t align with our values, whatever those values are, we can move. If those values include wanting to minimise our impact on the world, these questions are a good starting point for the platforms we use.
Interestingly, the ten questions contain what seem to be some obvious omissions. And they are all related to the area in which, as Indies, we are already leading the way. That area, of course, is the supply chain. And by chain I mean the flow of books in both directions. First of all, to the customer. Our use of print on demand technology often means that the books we send to customers travel less far than books that are part of a large offset run. That’s because print on demand facilities are more likely to be local to their customers. And then there’s the biggest elephant in the room. Returns. These account for a mahoosive proportion of the industry’s carbon footprint. And again, our use of print on demand minimises it.
It's interesting to note, though, that the press release from the Society of Authors points out that print on demand can often use materials like virgin pulp to produce paper. This demonstrates that sustainability is a complicated issue. And no one metric can give a full picture of the overall impact of a process.
The final question the Tree to Me campaign would have us ask publishers is, “How can you help me communicate this prominently to my readers?” As indies, many of us are already in a position to communicate good practice to readers and make a virtue out of the print on demand method we have often tended to see as a negative.
Author Surveys: Online Identity and Geolocated Links
Having started with a survey, we end with two more that you may find interesting to participating. And whose results you may also find helpful when they’re finished.
First up is a survey about the efficacy of geolocated links. What that means is links to local stores (such as your national Amazon marketplace) from the likes of Books2Read. These are designed to allow a single link to send readers to the store they buy from, wherever they are based. It matters, therefore, that these links send them to the right place. You can take the survey here.
The second is from Kirsten Bray, a Georgia Tech student. Kirsten is researching how we curate our online identity as writers. To quote her intent, she is, “interested in hearing from authors with diverse experiences, particularly those who are from communities historically underrepresented in the industry. We hope to use these insights to understand how authors manage identity in their work online and the community resources that support such creative work.” You can take the survey here.Self-publishing News: Indie Author Income Survey Shows Indie Authors Earn More Click To Tweet