What we know:

  • The market for story is larger than ever.
  • The market is more diverse. While this is counterintuitive with the market share being mainly on one privately-held platform, the ability to find and access a niche product is more easier than ever before in history.
  • The value an author can capture has increased.
  • The amount of books needed to earn a living has decreased due to disintermediation.


How to be one in a million.

The title of this section is true but misleading.


Jeff Bezos wrote in the 2018 Amazon Annual Report that over 1,000 indie authors have earned $100,000. Isn't that proof of how easy it is to succeed as an indie author?


You learned in part 1 that it's easier to get your book published. However the probability of you becoming a millionaire isn’t any better than it was before indie publishing.




The number of books published has increased exponentially.

At the same time the statistics of income haven’t changed.


This can be seen clearly in a review of Amazon’s book ranking system. To achieve a rank of roughly 100,000, you need to sell at least a book a day.


With over  8 million titles on Amazon, that means 98.5% of books make less than $2,000 a year.

To compound matters, many of the books in the top 100,000 are written by the same author.

Put another way; there are less than 100,000 authors responsible for the top 100,000 titles.


This concentration of readership is called cumulative advantage


Cumulative advantage is phenomena seen in music, art and literature where audiences build around a few providers in the market making them superstars.



Out of 100 published authors

 80 earn less than $10,000 a year.

16 earn more than $10,000 a year

earn between $10,000 and $100,000 a year

1 will earn over six figures.

Then how is it that there are more millionaire authors?


The percentage of millionaires has remained constant, the population of published authors has increased. Therefore you are applying the same percentage to a larger population.


1% multiplied by a million is 10,000 1% multiplied by 10 million is 100,000.


This knowledge should be sobering. While you have unfettered access to market, your probability of becoming a six or seven-figure author hasn’t changed. What has changed is that you have easier access to the market.


If your work resonates with an audience you'll be propelled into those elite ranks of six and seven figure authors. 


Wow! That's a bit depressing


There are dozen's of sites that will tell you that this is easy.


I'm telling you that the conditions have never been better, but it will take deliberate planning to get to where you want to go with your author career.


I'm also sharing the facts and the facts are that thousands of authors publish daily and if you don't treat this like a business seeking profit you'll be at a disadvantage.


To separate yourself from the pack you must deliver a product the market desires.  


Adopt this suggestion and you will see increased reader interest in your books.



Research Genres to Create the Best Product.


Readers want a mix of the new and familiar, this creates fluency ( Novemsky et al. 2007)


Fluency is the ease and familiarity of a concept. The familiar is trusted and accepted. Popular products are a mix of new and old concepts. Think just new enough to be different and just enough old to be familiar. Focus your attention on a target genre and dive deep into understanding the good and bad of successful products.


Here is an example: Imagine you're going to write an urban fantasy book with dragons. A good business researches the market and understands how to position a product. At the time of this writing the example book is ranked 313 in the Amazon Kindle Store that equates to $1,500 a day in sales. This book can attribute part of its success to fluency with a twist of novelty.

The book hits key tropes and honors the urban fantasy genre. The authors have used market research as a foundation for a good story.


Look at well performing books within a genre for the commonality that you should align with while also identifying what makes you different.

Look at the book reviews. Think of these as a customer focus group for you to learn what the market thinks about competitive products.

Find recurring themes and exploit them in your product.

Amazon also helps with key word aggregation to give you a feel for common terms. Look across books in a genre for common themes.

Authors that treat writing like a business and books like a product will rank high and get the lion's share of profits.