Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

New Author Earnings Report

Now Up After a Year…

It’s got a ton of stuff in it. And takes a vast amount of time to go through. But worth it.

And their new side-business they are only offering to big publishers is flat scary.

Horrifying, actually if they are doing it wrong.

And I got a hunch that unless they are pulling names, that new business is setting them up for more lawsuits than I want to think about. Because from my understanding, they are releasing personal sales numbers of writers to businesses who can get past their paywall.

Private business information of all of us. Oh, oh…

Data Guy, Hugh, tell me I am wrong here… Please?

I know in the free report you released some names and blocked some information and other names. I hope that every bit of data you release attached to a name is permission granted. Please, please tell me you are doing that…

Because behind that stupid paywall of needing ten million in sales, any of my pen names, my name, Kris’s name, or our numbers better not be out in public there. And how will I know? Let me think… I have been around this industry for forty years and have a lot of friends who will be glad to send me information about myself they buy from you.

Now, unless two very smart humans are being stupid beyond words, I am going to assume they are not doing what I (and others I have talked to) fear, so now to the meat of what they did release.

Scary amounts of data and tough to dig through, but as I said worth it.

So take the time to do so.

One Quibble…

However, I am going to quibble, and only an opinion quibble.

The silly myth that no one is making any money any more is a myth, as they proved with their numbers. That I agree.

And that there is a changing of the guard, that I agree as well. And expected. We are getting a bunch of writers now who understand business and production and don’t chase every promotion rabbit.

And I agree the industry and indie publishing is solid now.

So all those points they made I agree with. No issue at all.

But my quibble is that the reason so many feel the money is going down is that the industry is tougher. Everything has spread out over more books, more authors, and authors who don’t talk much or release their numbers.

When WMG started into this new world, we managed to get up 200 titles fairly quickly. Just six short years later we have up over eight hundred titles under many names. And we are not alone by a long ways in that growth.

Readers have more choices, more high-quality books to pick from. So the money has spread out, especially for the major bestsellers. You can make the bottom of the Times list on some weeks with just over a thousand copies sold. That would have been a failure book ten years ago.

So while I agree with their conclusions at the end, I just don’t think they took it that last step in comparing the numbers of indie authors they found in their very first survey way back with what they found now.

And as time goes on with this new way they are working, they will be able to track that growth.

And that will be a good thing as long as they never release personal business information to anyone.


  • David

    Data Guy is selling is his own analysis of public data released by Amazon (and others). The analysis is proprietary but the raw data is not.

    If that’s true, then the reports they sell to big companies, and the ones posted on their site, are less a public disclosure of private data than, say, the NY Times bestseller list, which is based on data not otherwise available to the public.

    • dwsmith

      David, not released. Data Guy goes in with a computer spider and takes the information. It has been ignored because he has been only using it for general summaries and general things up until now. And only taking a one second slice.Their new methods are taking it all and thus stealing corporate information and now selling it to the company’s competitors. I worry because if WMG information got out, my lawyers would be called and I would be filing complaints with State’s attorney generals and with Amazon and Kobo, not counting filing lawsuits and I flat don’t want to do that. But I will to protect my business. I just hope beyond hope Data Guy is not releasing personal and corporate information that they stole and does not belong to them.

      Just because you can get information does not mean you own it or can sell it.

      • J.M. Ney-Grimm

        …not released. Data Guy goes in with a computer spider and takes the information.

        Ah, good point. Thanks for clarifying that. I’d been thinking that the information is publicly available, but actually it’s not. (That was really the whole point of the Author Earnings project.) Each book’s rank is right out there where anyone can see it. But all the financial information and the unit sales remain hidden. Data Guy’s own software reveals it from what his spider collects. But Amazon very deliberately does not reveal that kind of information, as indeed most businesses (including indies and publishers) do not.

      • MSchultz

        I’m trying to understand how it is “not released.” If Amazon puts up a rank (they don’t have to, do they?) and it changes constantly, and someone can use software to track ranks and fluctuations and make estimates on sales from that, I don’t see how that is invasion of privacy. After all, it isn’t CORRECT actual author income data (more than one author has said that it’s wrong). It’s guesses based on what information they can get from a site everyone has access to. So, how is it not “released” if anyone can make such estimates/guesses with what Amazon puts out there? It isn’t a person cracking into an author’s financial records and leaking actual income.

        I think we all know it’s not ACTUAL earnings, but guesses. (Again, which several authors have said are not accurate).

        I suppose this is a fuzzy area for me, but I am trying to understand given how many authors I follow are ticked off about this.

        • dwsmith

          MSchultz, the reason is that this is damaging in many ways to many authors. I’ll talk tonight about “perception” because he calls this authors “earning” and except for beginning writers, these earnings he can find are only a tiny part of what we make. And by releasing this kind of personal business data (no matter how he got it) and selling it (again no matter how he got it), he can cause extreme damage to businesses.

          Just one example. A movie producer is looking to buy a book for a movie, looks at Data Guy’s numbers and sees the book didn’t sell very well over a certain period of time, decides to not do the movie, and the author loses millions. And that is only one minor way this can be damaging. This is why businesses, which all of you are as indie authors, don’t release private data.

          As I said before, just because a person can get the data doesn’t mean they should sell it. A massive line there.

          • Terrence OBrien

            1. The data has been released since it is available for anyone who wants to read it and write it on a yellow pad.
            2. The released data may be used in ways that are harmful to authors.

            Authors don’t like how the released data is being used, so they tell us they own it, it’s illegal to take, it is hacked from Amazon, it is private, etc.

            If authors have a case about how it is being used, then stand up and make it. But don’t hide behind claims that don’t hold up to scrutiny. It makes your case look weak.

          • dwsmith

            Terrence, yes, we all understand that. You are missing the point. Data Guy told us (indie authors) we would be able to access the information on ourselves only if we would just help him, so thousands of indie writers volunteered to give him a ton of personal data so he could “check” everything on the pretense we would be able to use our own information once it was all done. He even said that in public at RWA and other conferences.

            Then he turned around, told us to take a flying you-know-what and sold the information to those with a 10 million dollar business only. That is what is causing the uproar more than anything.

            And as I said in a post, he is representing this as “author earnings” and what he can find might be less than 15% of what I really make.

            So yes, we know you and your fancy pencil can get the data and I doubt if Amazon would care if you did it that way. They might care about you selling your data for a ton of money to their competitors. They have the ability to suck that information back behind walls and thus stop it and hurt us all. Got a hunch they might. Time will tell.

        • A.R. Williams

          Think of it like this:

          Someone lives in a house with a pool and a privacy fence. Their neighbors all live in single story homes. No one can look over their fence.

          One day, a developer builds a two story home in the vacant lot across from them. They can see EVERYTHING that happens in the backyard.

          On hot summer days, the owners of the pool like to go skinny dipping. The person in the two story house records all that happens and sells it online.

          Do you feel that person has that right, without asking, without permission?

      • David

        The data is released on the web in the form of html web pages.

        The spider crawls the web pages and collects the data — just like the spiders of search engines crawl the web, collect info, and present that info back to the public in the form of search results. Data Guy’s spider sees the same info that Google’s spider sees.

        A human can see this info, too, by going to any web page and viewing the html “page source” (ctrl+U in Firefox). So the info is not at all private, but written in html to be read by computers, and unintelligible to the casual reader until displayed in a browser.

        As Data Guy explained in his May 2016 report:

        “Our methodology employs a software spider that crawls across Amazon’s bestseller lists. The 200,000+ titles on those lists make up roughly 60% of Amazon’s daily sales. This leaves an appreciable number of titles and sales unaccounted for…. So for this report, we went deeper. Instead of just looking at Amazon’s bestseller lists, we had our spider follow links to also-bought recommendations and also through each authors’ full catalog. This resulted in a million-title dataset, our most comprehensive and definitive look yet at author earnings.”

        This is all info that a human web-surfer can access, but not at the same speed as a spider. The secret sauce is the number-crunching and the analysis, not the data. That’s public.

        • dwsmith

          David, you are right. And I had zero issue when that data was just collected and used in slices of a moment. Now he is collecting this data 24/7 and selling it, in essence opening up hundreds of thousands of business incomes and sales figures to the competition. He is even opening up sales for Disney and Amazon books themselves, something I am fairly certain those two companies won’t much like.

          Having this data out in public (sort of) is one thing, but collecting and selling it with the express intent to help traditional publishers and hurt indie publishers is what startles me. Mark my word, there will be a lot of lawsuits over this if they continue and have the information “in public” will not really be a defense.

          I just am stunned that Data Guy and Hugh have picked this path to hurt us all after everything they have done to help indies over the last few years. Stunning to me.

          Because information can be collected does not mean it should be sold to hurt others.

      • Terrence OBrien

        David, not released. Data Guy goes in with a computer spider and takes the information.

        If the data is available on the internet for anyone to access, then it is released. The way it is accessed tells us nothing about whether it has been made available on the internet.

      • Terrence OBrien

        Data Guy goes in with a computer spider and takes the information.

        I go in with a yellow pad and #2 pencil and take information. Then I use a calculator and more yellow pads and pencils to add it up. Data Guy does the same, but he uses a computer.

  • Mark Kuhn

    What is scary is how they were able to find this information to begin with. I can understand the Big Five doling out information, but most (all?) Indie Authors are self-employed. If I owned my own business and found my earnings and other information out in public display I’d be furious. For that matter, no one should have access to anyone else’s personal income information in any shape or form.
    But I could be wrong.

  • D J Mills

    Yes, I noticed only one entry was blurred in Top 25 eBook Publishers & Top 25 eBook Authors. I then hoped Data Guy had written permission to sell the lists of earnings of both public and private publishing companies and authors. Then I realised i would never need to worry about it because I barely sell one copy via Amazon per month. 🙂

    • dwsmith

      The authors he released, at least two of them that I have talked with this morning, DID NOT give permission. And what worries me is what is behind those blurred locks. That’s the information he sells and is way, way out of line.

      • Jo

        I’ve been seeing some pretty cheesed off people for sure. Even if the numbers aren’t accurate, being outed as a huge seller has a lot of people angry. Trad pub mega sellers are used to this, maybe, but others are not. They liked the anonymity.

        • dwsmith

          Oh, trust me, the trade pub authors are not going to like their actual sales numbers out there any more than indie writers do. And in some cases, they have very deep pockets. And their publishers sure won’t like it either. The publishers want to be in control of the story of sales of any author. Having it get out that a bestseller’s numbers are not what the publisher claims they are can cost a writer and a publisher millions. That hasn’t changed and this data will just make a lot of big publishers and big bestselling writers angry on the trade side as well.

        • dwsmith

          One more point on this that I bet Hugh never thought of while they were doing this. Imagine if we all could find out what Hugh’s sales numbers were when he made that paper only deal and he and his publisher never wanted us to. And now we can find out what Hugh’s numbers really are with his Amazon imprint publisher.

          Data Guy, we respected your privacy with your fake name, at least allow us to ask for some privacy with our business information. Give us a chance to opt out. It really would be that simple for all of us small fish, and some of the big trade fish as well.

    • AJ

      There a few more names blurred out now. Those indie authors must have contacted Data Guy after the post went live to ask their names be blurred. I can’t imagine waking up to see your name and info splashed like that without being asked, especially since data guy is using web crawlers/data scrappers to get to data that is not out in public. I would imagine Amazon and the other sites will figure out a way to block him now that he’s selling the info.

  • Debora Geary

    DWS and I both asked Data Guy to clarify if he was selling data. He offered Dean an evasive non-answer you can still see in the report’s comments. Then I posted this comment:

    “Data Guy, that’s a partial answer, but not the part that at least I was asking. You calculate individual-level estimates of units sold and income earned (with a very sophisticated algorithm you are comparing to data sources like Bookscan, which are actual sales.) That data is blurred in this report, but with a “lock” symbol. Are you selling unlocked versions of that individual-identified data to your paying clients? What is your policy on selling this data if you have not already done so?”

    That comment was visible on the site earlier today. It has been deleted.

    • dwsmith

      Yes, I answered your comment there, Debora and he deleted mine as well.

      So yes, clearly he is selling the data on individual authors.

      • Debora Geary

        The entire table of top indies has now been removed. That doesn’t mean that same data isn’t being sold, and/or won’t be in the future.

        To be clear, I think Data Guy has the right to monetize this. Carefully. With full disclosure (of who he is and what he’s doing with the data) and full access to indies as well and not just trad clients under the covers. Seriously, people. He’s *selling them data we can’t have.* That’s horrifying. And fixable. Have a website. Name it. Show us what you’re selling. Let us buy it (and yeah, that will get a lot of people riled up because the last people I want armed with this data are my effective competitors.) Put your ethical choices out into the sunlight and let people see them.

        There’s incredibly useful analysis that could come out of this data, particularly drilling into genre, price, seasonal and daily sales fluctuations, optimal release strategies etc etc etc. In aggregate, and available to everyone to buy, the people he named could be some of his best freaking customers. He of all people should know just how much money indies have, and data is something a lot of us value and would pay a lot of money for.

        But that isn’t what he’s done. Yet. Either this is clean or it isn’t. And right now, it really, really smells like something that isn’t. I really hope that changes for the better, and very soon.

        • dwsmith

          Agree, Debora. And a great solution would not only be what you suggest, but let indie authors opt out of using their names. Use the data, sure, as part of the overall patterns which is valuable, I agree. But just allow us with issues opt out our names. Can’t be that hard to do.

          And I agree, the paywall is something. Ten million. Are they going to ask me to prove that? WMG is up there pretty high, but damned if I am going to prove that to anyone but my accountant and the IRS and State, which is back to my issue of business information often needed to be kept personal.

  • Tom

    “Hi Dean,

    No part of any business I’m involved with is sharing or releasing actual sales data that has been **shared with me confidentially by any author, publisher, or agent**.

    Nor will it ever happen”

    *’s for emphasis. Thats nice he is keeping confidence voluntarily given, but what about the data he technically stole with his program?

    The AE reports are great, but he’s definitely selling data.

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, his answer wasn’t a direct “Yes, we are selling your personal sales data to companies who can hurt you.” But it was damned close. (grin)

  • Debora Geary

    Yes. They are selling the data. By author. ALL of us. And only to clients with big pockets. (h/t to kboards for identifying)

    “Bookstat’s lightning-fast, responsive dashboard lets you search by publisher, genre, author, title, BISAC, ISBN, or ASIN. Discover the top-earning publishers, authors, and titles in each genre right now. See their total ebook, audiobook, and online print sales for last quarter, last week, or even yesterday. Drill down into thousands of subgenres. Analyze sales by price point. By publisher type. By online discount offered. Slice the data any way you want.

    From the largest Big Five trade publishers down to the scrappiest garage micropresses, to sales from Amazon’s in-house publishing imprints and format-dominating Audible Studios to J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore — data that you’ll find nowhere else — even the sales of individual self-published authors: it’s all right there, live at your fingertips, ready for you to ask it the questions that drive your business.”

    “If your company’s annual revenues are $10 million or more, and you think Bookstat’s sales data dashboard might be a good match for your business needs, give us a shout. We’d be happy to set up a live demo or explore different subscription options.”

  • Mickie Dreysen

    Hi, Dean,

    I’m delurking to comment on Data Guy’s actions. (Personally, I wish I was
    delurking to say thank you, and that you’re a daily inspiration for my own

    I’ve said things in more detail here, but three basic points
    seem obvious.

    1. If Amazon had set their “no robots” policy to a level that Data Guy was
    cracking their security to get this data, and then he was turning around
    and offering it for sale publically, then it would be even more obvious that
    what he was doing had crossed the line. This isn’t public data, in other words,
    it’s data from Amazon’s private web servers that happens to be available,
    at the moment, without entering a password. There’s a significant difference

    2. Let’s flip to a counterfactual. If “Statistical Lady” was offering to sell
    to the world the ranked, personal, non-anonymous buying data of all of
    Amazon’s customers, again, it would be completely and totally obvious that
    “Statistical Lady” had crossed the line.

    If nothing else, Amazon would be bankrupt tomorrow.

    Since the Amazon buyer has an obvious expectation that their data is not
    going to be made available in such a way, and since every buyer has a seller,
    then it should be, as a matter of fair trade, the case that every seller has,
    at least, a similar expectation of privacy.

    If not, again, Amazon is likely to be vulnerable to a huge liability, otherwise.

    Finally, the only way I see for Data Guy to accomplish what he’s after
    commercially in an ethical manner is for his data set to be completely
    anonymized, in a 3rd party auditable manner. Opt-ins, opt-outs, etc. are
    likely half measures guaranteed to fail.

    Any rate, just my two cents. Thanks again, Dean, I appreciate what you do here
    more than I can every say. -mkd

    • dwsmith

      Agree, Mickie. Completely anonymize his data would still work for him and allow him to make money on his hard work and protect the rest of us. Not at all sure why they thought they had to take it this next step and cross the line. Clearly not thought through.

      • Debora Geary

        The data is just as valuable from a “overview and trends” perspective if it’s anonymized, but it’s not nearly as valuable for learning from the choices, behaviors, and strategies of successful authors. To do that, I need to be able to connect their sales data with external events. For example, if I want to understand the impact of cover changes or Bookbubs on series revenue in the next 90 days, I need to be able to use the author’s name to hook up their sales data with their cover change or Bookbub promo.

        I’m not saying this is an ethical use of Data Guy’s data. I’m just saying it’s far more valuable with the names in it. There are certainly ways to monetize anonymized data – I could have given him a wish list as long as my arm of analyses I’d be willing to pay for. But there’s far more value in the identified data, even just as an indie author. For publishers or agents trying to identify and/or copy and/or ride the coat-tails of the next hot thing, I would imagine the named-author data is also pretty damn useful.

        • Gordon Horne

          The conclusion they drew from the table later deleted is there has been a changing of the indie author guard.
          ” A lot of today’s top-selling indies are relatively new names. We didn’t recognize a lot of them.
          And a lot of yesteryear’s pioneering indie superstars no longer even make the Top 50.”

          Given there is a lot of churn among individuals (who might still be making a living, just not a King of the Hill living) how valuable is it try and replicate an individual’s success by stalking them rather than use general trends to inform your own business plan based on your strengths?

          I would add to your ethical concerns that for any individual the general trends are more valuable as you can fit yourself into trends. You cannot be another individual.

          • dwsmith

            Worthless to follow individual author’s practices. Better to learn the industry, follow what is happening, and do what works for you, as you said. But I think I misunderstood your last statement about not being another individual. That is exactly wrong. You must be an individual with your own voice, your own way of doing things, to have any success. Following a herd just gets you dusty and stepping in shit. You want to be out front, being an individual, and then let others follow you.

          • Gordon Horne

            Yes, Dean, we’re agreeing. I’m saying you cannot be an individual other than the individual you already are. No matter how much I stalk you and study every minutia of your style, your work and business practices, your idiosyncrasies, I cannot be DW Smith.

            Although Single White Female is a good film.

  • GB

    There are a few misconceptions that keep getting repeated in this thread. DataGuy is not stealing information from anywhere. He is collating publicly available data in the form of rank, price, genre, etc. Again, he is not stealing data, not taking it without permission, or whatever. Any of us could go write down on a piece of paper everything his spider grabs. Of course, that would be crazy but it isn’t illegal or unethical. It’s public information information available to everyone.

    He then takes that raw data and applies some number-crunching based on information indie authors have given in the past (what rank equals what sales, etc.) and probably a bunch of other stuff too. That gives him what he’s proven to be a relatively accurate estimate of sales. This step too isn’t illegal or unethical.

    The next step is where things get hazy, not legally but ethically. He takes all that information (some given to him by indie authors over time to calibrate and check his estimates against real world numbers) and then decided to sell it to the big publishing houses. Again, he’s not stealing or taking anything illegally. However, the ethical aspect of it gets gray here. One, because part of how his algorithm was originally proved (whether or not it still needs that calibration doesn’t matter) was with private sales data volunteered by indie authors and now he’s selling the product that, in part, resulted from that information. He did a ton of work to make it mean something. That has to be acknowledged. And two, he’s only making the product available to ten million sales customers. Again, not illegal in the least. But it does add more gray on the ethical side of things.

    I imagine he doesn’t want to give author/imprints the choice of opting out of being named in the data. Part of the attraction to potential customers will be that specificity. Anonymizing parts of the data upon request would be both a PITA for him and diminish his product. Not saying he shouldn’t offer it, but I doubt he will.

    And a question for you Dean, why would selling this product make him liable for a lawsuit of some kind? Like in the damages you mention of potentially losing millions on a movie deal. Nielson Bookscan is a similar type of service, but with more limited reach. Publishers already have access to that data. As long as DataGuy caveats the information with something like “these are just estimates based on blah blah blah and don’t cover sales from x, y, z, I’d think he covers his legal arse. Probably in the same exact way Nielson already does.

    All that said, it was the inevitable monetizing of all the work that came before. The next logical step from a business standpoint. And yet, it still has the stink of selling out about it.

    • dwsmith

      Never said he was stealing the information. No one is. Just like my analogy of listening in on someone’s wifi from the street or another analogy here about peeking from a second story into a neighbor’s backyard. All legal on the surface. So your point about ethics is correct.

      What I said about lawsuits is that I can see hundreds coming his way.

      And I don’t agree. His information would be just as valuable if he scrubbed all names. Why would anyone care because it’s the information in general that is important, not what so-and-so made on any given day or month. That’s where all the problems lie, down in the individual data.

      But he and Hugh have decided to stab all indie authors in the backs. As AW said, he used us.

    • Debora Geary

      Passive Guy just posted this in a comment on his blog. “I think Amazon owns the sales data, Debora, and has the legal right to permit or not permit others to access that data from Amazon’s public-facing site or its non-public data repository.”

      So I think it is in fact in question whether it is okay to take publicly available data from Amazon’s website and use it without their consent.

    • Mickie Dreysen

      It’s not Data Guy’s liability here that’s interesting.

      It’s Amazon’s.

      Here’s a short story of what I mean (I’m a data geek, not a lawyer. What Data
      Guy is doing is exactly what we train, ethically and professionally, to

      (Oh, a different story here. I might have gotten a little
      carried away; writers will forgive me if I say it was after my daily word
      count and I might be a little punchy. That applies here, too, if anything
      seems overstated or whatever, I apologize for the accidental hyperbole.)

      Remember, for ever recorded sale at Amazon, there is a seller, and a buyer.

      Data Guy has just offered for sale, to anyone who walks in the door, both
      current and future records of essentially every book sale (but why be limited
      to books? Do you think that’s his only target now?).

      Well, one half of every sale. The seller’s half.

      But here’s a neat trick. Any government in the world, where Amazon has a
      physical location, can compel Amazon to provide them with the second half,
      if they’re sufficiently motivated.

      That is, Data Guy has just exposed not just the seller’s data for (in principle)
      every book transaction in Amazon’s records over the past however many years.

      He’s exposed every buyer as well.

      Remember, the NSA, for one, famously has recorded at least a significant
      fraction of every net connection made in the North American continent. If
      they want, all they have to do now is buy Data Guy’s data set, and five minutes
      later, they know who what where when and why for a significant amount of
      traffic between Seattle and the rest of the world.

      And that’s the government, at pretty much any level. All they need is a warrant.
      And, if every sales tax authority in the country decides they want it bad,
      they’ve now got discovery essentially for free.

      Because they know what questions to ask Amazon, for every D.B.A., corporation,
      partnership, etc. etc. et bloody cetera. And they now know who sold what,
      when. Thanks, Data Guy!

      But wait, we’re not done yet! That’s just the 100 percent correlation!

      At the 95th percentile, AT&T, Verizon, probably Google and Apple, have the
      money and the data to correlate buyer with seller. And they don’t even need
      a warrant.

      Since they have the other end of the connection on their own servers. Think
      spam’s bad now? See those ads all over the place that read your browser
      cookies and serve up ads for whatever you’ve been shopping for lately?

      What do you think your email inbox will look like when your own internet
      provider knows, with 95 percent confidence, your buying history at Amazon?
      Amazon has protected this information with their life, up ’til now. It’s
      the goose that lays the golden egg, and they know it.

      And Data Guy’s let it loose to the world. For a price unknown.

      Start to get the picture yet? There’s a reason that data geeks involved in
      corporations, government, hospitals, whatever, are trained, over and over
      again, to never put proprietary information of any type at all outside of
      a firewall. And to never allow robots to crawl your web servers.

      And to bounce with prejudice any halfwit that ignores the robots directives.
      Because if they’re that determined, they do not have your best interests
      at heart.

      Or to put it another way. If, when, Amazon’s internal computer jocks, the
      heavyweights, realize what Data Guy’s done, and manages to convince Jeff
      Bezos of the danger Amazon faces as a consequence?

      Data Guy had better have a lot of money in the bank, and a whole fleet of
      lawyers on retainer. He’s gonna need them.

      And Hugh Howey. And anyone else involved in this mess.

  • AW

    The data which he has gathered would be meaningless if he had not first been able to get it somewhat verified by asking actual figures from authors with the promise he would never release *these* actual numbers they supplied. Hence, I wrote the following to him, which like Debora’s comment, was also deleted:

    “You may not release the actual sales data that has been released to you by others, but you have used that data, as you admit, to check and fine tune your algorithm. Hence, if you release the data provided by your algorithm, as it appears you do as indicated by the paywall, you are in part, betraying the confidential sharing of data, as this has been specifically used to make sure that your algorithm ends up giving results that will be pretty close to the data that was shared. So to claim that you will release only “your” algorithm data, and not the shared data, is a legalistic workaround.”

    Thus, this is not just an issue of whether he *should* release data that “he” has gathered. He was only able to be sure that the data he gathered was meaningful by effectively “tricking” authors into releasing data, which he said he would not release. Yes, he will not release their actual numbers, but just use them to help verify and fine tune his numbers, which he will release.

    If he never was able to get authors to release their data, his spider would be useless – he would have ZERO idea if it worked or not.

    He never disclosed to the authors that: Though I will not release your actual numbers I WILL use them to refine my numbers, so they will be very close to your actual numbers, and these I WILL release.

    IF he had told them that, no one would have co-operated I guess.

    And since he is going to commercially benefit from his chicanery, there may be a legal basis to prevent him – any of you reading this who are lawyers or know lawyers should be able to answer that.

    • J.M. Ney-Grimm

      If he never was able to get authors to release their data, his spider would be useless – he would have ZERO idea if it worked or not.

      Excellent point.

      He never disclosed to the authors that: Though I will not release your actual numbers I WILL use them to refine my numbers, so they will be very close to your actual numbers, and these I WILL release.

      IF he had told them that, no one would have co-operated…

      Indeed. When numbers of authors were helping him out, it was with the idea that his work was aimed at helping writers. He’s done a bit of a bait and switch. I certainly never foresaw that he would sell the data to the big publishers and other billion-dollar businesses who will use the information to hurt their smaller (indie) competitors.

      (For the record, I was not one of the individuals sharing my own sales data with Data Guy.)

  • Sheila G

    That whole thing about this being done with publicly available data? Nope. Amazon releases very little data about sales, even to us, who are doing the selling. This isn’t just looking at sales rank and calculating how much money people have made, it’s lots more details from Amazon’s own collection of data, which is being sold with your names on it to people who don’t want to do nice things for you. Lick at the crumbs of Author Earnings if you please, but don’t brush this off as nonsense, or belittle people — as I’ve seen done on other forums for them being upset that they were basically outed, and those who weren’t but feel like we’ve been tossed to the wolves.