99% of Amazon Authors make very little

Dr. Sol Adoni

Books - Music - Films - Videos - Consults

So I have some interesting data now that we dumped a lot of our titles onto Amazon and have hit some top ‘top seller’ lists in our main genres.

Our titles usually sell for $9.99 on newer releases and $4,99 to $6,99.

They are almost all in the NF (Non Fiction) genre.

All the very top sellers on Amazon are F (Fiction) and that genre sells cheap often $.99 to $2.99.

Now there are certainly over 1 Million Authors on Amazon by now and millions of titles.

So for argument sake lets say you hit the top 10K in ‘authors rank’ and you have low priced books, you are in the top 1% of ‘authors’. If you are ranked around the vaulted 20K in ‘authors rank’ you are inside the magic 2%, that means the top 2% selling authors.

I think the Amazon figures are based on unit sales and not earnings, so authors selling the same number of books a day with a similar author rank that day, but one author’s books being usually $9.99 compared to $.99 will make about 20 times more in royalties if authors rank is based on only unit sales. If it’s based on dollar sales then they would make about the same, since the lesser priced book would have to be selling ten times more units to have the same gross sales and lower priced books have a royalty of only 35% compared to books price at $2.99 that choose do you want 35% or 70% royalty. The only difference is authors or publishers at 70% pay a nominal fee to Amazon per book to distribute them.

We have several authors including myself in the top 20K and most of the time 15K and we expect to soon be in the top 10K range as far as AUTHORS RANK goes.

Our main authors including myself have many titles produced over many years and all we have to do to maximize sales on Amazon is make it exclusive to Amazon then Amazon does promote it some. So now we have several authors in the top 1% range of Amazon and these writers all get $9.99 for new titles that usually NF and very large with page counts from 300 to over 1,200 in size.

So now these authors are earning even KENP on their titles enrolled in Select and I’m not sure Amazon uses that in Authors Rank, I was under the impression they use KENP in sales ranks for books but I’m not sure that is the case now.

For our authors KENP averages about 40% of royalties for each author on titles enrolled in Select.

Neither of our top authors are selling in my opinion lots of books on Amazon, yet they sell books throughout the day and have a high unit price so small sales numbers start to add up. Our main genres are NF (Non Fiction) and NF just doesn’t sell in huge numbers, the game in publishing has always been FICTION. People like to get lost in Fiction, reality is tough enough for most people.

If I had to live off my Amazon royalties as a top 15K to 20K authors ranked author I’d be way below the poverty line of $19K a year or so in the United States. So 99% of authors on Amazon make so little they are way under the poverty line even if the author is the top end of the 99%.

So how high do you have to get on Amazon’s author rank before you can make a living and not collect food stamps?

Well let’s say it’s top 1000 since top 15,000 is no where near a living, I would wager that only the authors with top 100 have decent incomes and the 900 higher are only eeking out a living. That means 99.9% of authors on Amazon don’t even make 20K or 30K a year which I don’t consider a ‘living’ in the United States.

$50K a year jobs are common in the United States if you have minor skills and some management experience, decent jobs start in the $100K to $200K range.

I don’t think every author in the top 1000 on Amazon makes over $100K and the top 100 in authors rank easily make hundreds of thousands.

The sad fact is 99% of authors on Amazon will never get near the 10K authors rank, that figure is more important than any one books ‘sales rank’ since it shows TOTAL SALES for an author and some authors with large catalogs sell a lot of books without having any books very high on ‘best seller lists’.

As a publisher Authors Rank is how I view Amazon and they don’t push this ranking publicly much, unless the author is a top 100 or so ranked author and that is about 99.99% of the author on Amazon if all they have is 1 Million authors and the amount of authors now may be well over 1 Million authors.

Just 1 sale a day will get you in the top 150K author rank from what I’ve seen and we have many authors on Amazon.

Triple that 1 sale a day to 3 a day and you are in the top 15K or so. At $9.99 a book you earn around $6.50 after fees and less if you are not self-published and very few authors work can command or justify $9.99 an eBook.

So $20.00 or so a day or $600.00 a month is all an author can earn around the top 15K authors rank. The way numbers work once you have an algorithm you can project numbers so based on my analysis I would say a top 1500 authors rank author is doing 30 books a day and a top 150 author is doing 300 books a day. I read somewhere that a book in the top 10 or so at Amazon does 400 units a day. So my projection seems to be close to the mark.

Most top 100 authors are well known names from the big 5 publishing hours that are paraded in front of TV shows and radio shows all day long. Most of them see very little from their eBook sales since they get big advances and then small royalties on each title sold, X% for hardcover Y% for paperback and Z% or digital or ebook download.

Bigger publishers can break through the $9.99 barrier that Amazon has in place to force Indie and smaller publishing houses to keep eBooks no more than $9.99.

When you consider the ‘average’ author in the entire mainstream publishing industry earns less than $5,000.00 a YEAR you realize how poorly paid writers really are.

It has been reported that if you took the average amount paid to authors on Amazon it would be less than $500.00 a year. I would wager it is less.

After 911 hit for months I was getting millions of people a day to my sites since I had made a clear warning about 911 in Usenet. I was a viral story for months. Right after 911 my Prophecies book and my work on Nostradamus were selling THOUSANDS OF COPIES every day from my own network.

My advice to anyone starting out wanting to be a writer, you better have a great day job or a wealthy spouse since the odds of you even making a minor living are stacked against you.

Books by Dr. Sol Adoni


Dr. Sol Adoni

Books - Music - Films - Videos - Consults

Books by Dr. Sol Adoni