Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  Topic of the Night,  Writing in Public

Author Earnings Report


Today a new Author Earnings report came out form Hugh Howey and Data Guy. Normally these reports are amazing, especially watching the trends from quarter to quarter over the last year plus.

But this time they went even farther. They got 82% of all books sold in paper, audio, and ebook on Amazon.

And they talked a lot about the dark matter, the huge area of books that sell very, very few copies yet make up a lot of the volume on Amazon.

This report is a stunner. Take your time and read it. I’ll give a few of my opinions below in the topic of the night. But there is a lot in this report. Take your time. Study it.

Author Earnings May 2016 Report


The Day

Errands, then back to WMG to wash windows. Not kidding. I had picked up a bunch of signs we wanted to put in high windows and the windows hadn’t been washed since we moved into the building going on five years ago.

So I discovered I suck at washing windows, but they look a ton better than they did before. And they are done.

Then went for a walk with another writer, then back to work on stuff in the store until heading home to take a nap and cook dinner.

After e-mail, I got started on the novel again around 10:30 p.m. I managed 800 words, took a very short break and then got another 700 words before heading to watch the last two episodes of season two of Daredevil.

Got back in here around 2 a.m. and managed another 1,100 words before 3 a.m., then another break and another 800 words before 4 a.m.

So a total of 3,400 tonight. Feels good and feeling easy.


Writing Bundle

Another pitch on the writing bundle.

These books will help you. How’s that for a pitch. And bundled like this, they are very reasonably priced.

Get it at



Online Workshops Start Monday!!!

Still lots of room in all of them except short story. That only has one spot left as of tonight. I worked on them over the last few days to get them ready. And recording the first Teams week tomorrow.

All details at

Class #51… June 6th … The Business of Writing
Class #52… June 6th … Character Voice/Setting
Class #53… June 6th … Author Voice
Class #54… June 6th … Ideas into Stories
Class #55… June 7th … Teams in Fiction
Class #56… June 7th … Depth in Writing
Class #57… June 7th … Plotting With Depth
Class #58… June 8th … Writing Fiction Sales Copy
Class #59… June 8th … Writing and Selling Short Stories (one spot left)
Class #60… June 8th … Advanced Depth

Classic Workshops and Lectures are also available at any time.


Topic of the Night

Author Earnings May 2016 Report just came out. If you don’t understand this report, go to the web site and see how they do what they do. They explained it pretty well again this time.

This is a must read for any author trying to make a living in publishing.

Now this time Hugh and Data Guy took more than just the books on the bestseller lists on Amazon. They went a ton deeper. They took everyone’s entire catalog who had even a single book on any of the thousands of bestseller lists. Then they took everyone’s entire catalog who had an also-bought anywhere.

They ended up with about a million books in the data base. Wow.

Then they did what they do best and started tearing apart the numbers and presenting them in great graphs, easy for all of us to understand.

Now realize that Kris and I are in the small and medium-sized publisher category as are many of my friends. And Kris and I both have a ton of books still with traditional publishing. We are hybrid authors in all senses of the term.

And later in the report Hugh and Data Guy talk about dark matter authors who don’t sell hardly any copies. Well, a bunch of my traditional-published books fit into that, especially the ones under pen names. (Hugh and Data Guy did not try to combine pen names with authors, so for example, the five books Kris and I did under Sandy Schofield would be deep in the dark matter they talk about in traditional.)

In fact, I think I am about fifteen of the authors on their list, at least, and Kris would be about five or so.

And many of my books through WMG publishing also fall into the dark matter sales, meaning they sell few, if any copies. For example: I have about 150 short stories out as stand-alone books. Many of those sell very few copies either in paper or electronic since I sell the short story for $4.99 paper and $2.99 electronic.

But as Hugh and Data Guy so clearly point out, there is a lot of money in that dark matter area, even with very few sales. It adds up very nicely.

But what I like is that with this report, all those books I have out in various ways, selling very few copies, are now almost all counted. That makes this report that much more valuable.

And make sure you look at the charts in the appendices. Critical stuff there. Take some time and figure it out.

I know that Data Guy and Hugh would love to hear your opinions and so would I if you want to talk about it here.

One last thing. This industry owes Hugh and Data Guy a fantastic round of applause. I can’t imagine the idiocy that would have been going on without this information over the last two years. Information like this just clears away the mist and brings everything into sharp focus.

Thanks, guys!!


The Writing of Death Takes a Partner: A Mary Jo Assassin Novel

Day 1.. 2,100 words.   Total words so far… 2,100 words.
Day 2.. 4,400 words.  Total words so far… 6,500 words.
Day 3.. 4,200 words.  Total words so far… 10,700 words.
Day 4.. 2,150 words.  Total words so far… 12,850 words.
Day 5.. 2,200 words.  Total words so far… 15,500 words.
Day 6.. 2,050 words.  Total words so far… 17,550 words.
Day 7.. 3,200 words.  Total words so far… 20,750 words.
Day 8.. 3,150 words.  Total words so far… 23,900 words.
Day 9.. 3,400 words.  Total words so far… 27,300 words.

(Thirty days off between day six and day seven, then five more days away between Day 7 and 8.)


Totals For Year 3, Month 11, Day 2

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 988

(Totals start over as normal)

— Daily Fiction: 3,400 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 6,5,50 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words 

— Blog Posts: 900 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 1,400 words

— E-mail: 16 e-mails. Approx. 500 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 25 e-mails. Approx. 1,100 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers


You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

If you would like to leave a tip just hit (Goes to WMG Publishing account, but I’ll get it just fine.)



  • Suzan Harden

    Just a quick skim of AE last night blew my mind (I was trying to finish writing a novel, got sidetracked by AE, and forced myself to return to the writing). By taking that deeper look, DG, Hugh, and the folks assisting them showed just how much the publishing landscape has changed.

    My sales have gradually fallen, but I fully blame the two years I took off due to a series of personal situations (Murphy’s Law was in full effect). The dark matter effect on my sales helped keep my head above water. I owe the AE-Team my thanks for keeping my spirits up during a rough time in my life.

    • dwsmith

      Suzan, glad things are clearing.

      When a book or series of books isn’t pushed for a time, the sales drop to a base line, which is what I call it. Selling a copy here or there at random times. But always seeming to be about the same amount when averaged over time. I call that average the base line.

      Base line level depends on genre, numbers of books out under the author name, and so on. But all of us drop into the dark matter area in sales when things go down to the base line. Nature of the beast, but that doesn’t mean that people still don’t find and buy and read our work. I keep reminding myself that each “sale” is a person who wanted to read something I wrote. I find that fantastic.

  • D J Mills

    I looked at it yesterday. Impressive!

    The main thing I took away was those selling most have dropped their prices on novella and novel length stories to $2.99-3.99 price range. Which devalues novel length stories compared to short and novelette length stories which would have to drop to Free – $0.99.

    Since I am following your recommendations on pricing, I haven\’t done that yet. 🙂

    • dwsmith

      Not really, D.J. Most indies run novels in the $3.99 to $6.99 level. Traditionals way above that.

      Remember, it’s people like me in these numbers who pull the price trend downwards dramatically. I have well over a hundred short stories up for sale at $2.99. In AE numbers, those look like “books” and pull the price trend down. Most authors I know are putting up short fiction for the $2.99 price electronic. Author Earnings has no way to tell apart a short story from a novel. They are all just “books” under this data. So ignore that part of the data. It doesn’t pan. Not sure why the guys even put it in, honestly.

  • Karen Fonville

    Dean, I got the Write Stuff Bundle. Finished reading Stages of A Fiction Writer and have almost finished Heinlein’s Rules. Both of these are great to review… After that, I will have a dilemma as to what to read next. So Many good and helpful books in that bundle. Well worth the price.

    Also, I wanted to thank you for putting the Writing With Originality workshop up on Youtube. I missed it when it was offered. It’s wonderful to be able to watch it on the Television. I’ve finished the first two weeks and can’t wait to get into the third week.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Karen. Glad the workshop is making sense. And you can get to it all in order here on my web site under the YouTube tab at the top.