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The End of Author Earnings Report, Redux

Writing over at TNPS, Mark Williams reported earlier this week that Paul Abbassi’s (AKA Data Guy’s) 5-year-old Author Earnings Report website had been down for a couple weeks. Williams notes that it’s been 14 months since the last installment of the Author Earnings Report, and asks whether it’s dead.

Today Bookstat, the body that Author Earnings morphed into, appears to be still active, but as the data is locked away behind a $10 million paywall and the last update was six months ago it’s hard to be sure.

But the Author Earnings Report site has progressed from neglected and gathering cyberdust, comments ignored, promised updates not delivered, to, this past week or two, HTTP Error 500 status.

Whether this is just a tech ‘problem being ignored or a convenient way to remove the controversial reports and the mess of contradictory numbers from the public eye – or perhaps the corporate eye of Bookstat subscribers – is anyone’s guess right now.

While I disagree with how Williams covered this story,  I do still think he is at least half right.

I had a sneaking suspicion when the last Author Earnings Report was released in January 2018 that the start of BookStat meant the end of the Author Earnings Report. The thing about that report was that it was very light on detail. It mainly consisted of what looked like screensnaps from BookStat’s back-end, and included very little analysis compared to what we had seen previously.

That thin Report gave the appearance that now that Abbassi was selling the cow, he would no longer be giving the milk away for free, and the past 14 months with no new Report would tend to support that conclusion.

BTW, the last thing published on that site were the slides from Abbassi’s presentation at the Nebula awards last May. While it did contain useful info, it still fell far short of the highly detailed Reports we had seen previously.

Launched in early 2014, the Author Earnings Report spent four years going through the classic cycle of "first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then then attack you, and then you win".

Only in this case, after Abbassi won, his earliest supporters – indie authors – were thrown overboard. The authors who gave Abbassi the sales data required to build and refine his models, who spread the word and brought him to the attention of the wider publishing industry, have little to show for it.

Abbassi, on the other hand, has a business called BookStat.

Caveat Emptor.

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Gordon Horne March 29, 2019 um 3:17 pm

I said in January 2018 that even if that was the final Author Earnings Report, the spread of knowledge cannot be undone. The Author Earnings Reports as a body established as fact the anecdote that indie publishing was a viable career. Further, being a fledging indie might be more viable than being a fledging trad pub author with the Big 5. Fewer millionaires, more people paying bills. I am grateful to Data Guy and Hugh Howey for making this addition to the common knowledge.

Of course, statistics are not predictive for the individual.

I believe Mr Abbassi’s new boutique services are of little value. He can tell you how you are doing relative to other people, but how valuable is that compared to how you are doing relative to your needs and goals? That you already know.

It’s a shame the original reports might be gone for good, but there are undoubtedly hundreds or thousands of copies spread around that could reappear in the public eye.

Nate Hoffelder March 29, 2019 um 3:56 pm

You’re right.

One of the benefits of the AE Report is that we now know indie authors have upturned the industry. There’s been a huge shift in the industry, and that fact did not disappear with the site.

Dwayne March 29, 2019 um 7:20 pm

You mentioned from an article.
> but as the data is locked away behind a $10 million paywall and the last update was six months ago it’s hard to be sure.

The data provided by The Author Earnings Reports were very insightful. Do you know if getting access to Bookstat is affordable? Could not find any pricing information on the site

Will Entrekin March 29, 2019 um 9:34 pm

Does this mean we can start talking more about the quality of indie books, rather than focusing solely on sales figures/chart rankings/"making a living" as the metrics of success?

I, for one, would applaud such a development.

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2019 um 7:06 am

that would not be a bad thing

Gordon Horne March 30, 2019 um 12:31 am

Dwayne, you have to have $10 million a year in sales to get access.

It doesn’t state what currency that’s in, or how they verify it, but for most of us that’s not relevant.

Hutch March 30, 2019 um 8:27 pm

Data still available here (from a July 2018 capture by the Wayback Machine):

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2019 um 7:05 am

Thanks! The Wayback machine no longer works for me on Chrome, so I could not retrieve that link.

Mark Williams – The New Publishing Standard March 31, 2019 um 5:08 am

"BTW, the last thing published on that site were the slides from Abbassi’s presentation at the Nebula awards last May. While it did contain useful info, it still fell far short of the highly detailed Reports we had seen previously."

Actually the last posting was the slideshow from Digital Book World 2018 in October

In neither case was this a report aimed at, or which much relevance to, indies. Just a BookStat promo copied over to the AER site.

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2019 um 5:27 am

bad link

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt April 2, 2019 um 3:06 am

It was a good idea, and it helped indies price their books, but with Amazon clearly taking over the wide center green band at a price point between indies and traditional publishers on the AE reports, I lost interest since I could figure no way to get Amazon to publish me.

They know what they’re doing, based on their data – but I only care that they’re just as impenetrable as agents. And as hard – or harder – to get through to.

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