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How To Become a Highly Paid Author

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storycon.org H2'ed 6/20/13
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1) understand the publishing environment as it is today

2) determine which of the many publishing opportunities are right for you

3) understand the costs and benefits of various publishing routes

4) understand how and why the industry is changing so fast -- and where it's headed

What Publishing Is

Publishing today can mean many different things. First of all, the question you must ask is, "What kind of book do I want to publish?"

There are dozens of book forms that can be published including paperback books, hardcover books, ebooks, audiobooks, and specialty books (like pop-up books). What formats do you want your book to be published in?

Publishing Industry Data

It's very hard -- no, impossible -- to find reliable data for book sales. I've done the research and pieced together data from different sources to try to give you the big picture of what's happening now in the industry, where we've been heading and where we're likely to end up in the future. Please realize that all this sales data is biased, and none of it should be seen as "the truth". But it is the best data there is, and the picture of what's happening in the industry is quite clear if you learn how to read the data.

In 2011, according to Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the Total United States Consumer book market was $19.5 billion ( note: different sources, such as AAP, will quote very different dollar values of the book market based on the limited data they're reporting. The real number of the U.S. is close to $20 billion). That number is expected to grow to $21 billion by 2016. That's about a 1.1% annual growth rate, which actually a negative real  growth rate when you take into account inflation, which is much higher than 1.1%.

So what does this data show us? First of all, this data shows us that the US consumer book market is very big -- $20 billion is a lot of money. Secondly, it shows us that the market is actually declining. Even though the market is growing by a nominal 1.1% a year, that growth rate becomes negative when inflation is added to the equation. This means consumers are spending slightly less value each year on books. I use value here instead of money because consumers are spending more dollars on books each year but the dollars are worth less.

According to AAP, ebooks accounted for about 22% of all book sales dollars in 2012. AAP reported that the ebook market in 2012 grew by 46% in the US and 44% in the UK.

According to AAP, the US downloadable audiobook market in 2012 was $87 million, and grew at a rate of 20-30% annually. So downloadable ebooks make up about 1% of the total US book market.

I created a pie chart based on these numbers that you can see below to get a visual representation for the current book market in 2013, and what the market is projected to be like in 2016. Study these charts well because they may hold the key to your financial future as an author.

Estimated Chart of US Book Market 2013

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Projected Chart of US Book Market 2016


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Based on the best data and projections we have, you can see that the ebook market is about to grow over the next 3 years from $4.4 billion to over $10 billion, the physical book market is about to shrink from over $15.4 billion to $10 billion, and audiobooks will grow from $200 million to over $750 million.

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