In an interesting post, writer Claude Nougat estimated the total number of books on Amazon – about 3.4 million at last count (a number that could include apps as well) and then figured out how many books were added in a day. Nougat noticed that the number rose by 12 books in an hour, which suggests that one new book is added every five minutes. And, most likely, it’s probably an indie book.
Let’s let that sink in.
What does that mean for the indie publisher? If you’re perpetually optimistic, very little. If you’re even a little bit pessimistic, however, you might want to rethink your career. As Nougat writes:
The reason why? Basically the tsunami of books that buries every single newcomer!
This also means that this onslaught buries mainstream titles as well, which is something that should give the big five publishers pause. With so much choice, why would we pay $14.99 for a mainstream Kindle edition when we can experiment with a few 99 cent (or free) books. The answer to that, obviously, is that the mainstream title has been vetted and edited by professionals, but even that is quickly changing.
Indie publishing is immensely popular and it’s already being programmatically gamed by robots. In fact one robot alone has created 100,000 books. Given the junk available, reviews and rankings become ever more important. And, when that happens, even folks just under the top 100 can fall into oblivion.
Even indie millionaires aren’t doing quite well. Amanda Hocking, vampire writer, made millions on her novels but now her titles are going for free or cheap and have fallen far on the rankings. Hugh Howey’s Dust is at 800th place in the pantheon of books, which might as well be the bottom.
It’s hard being a writer. Indie publishing tools have made it easier and Amazon is leading the way. But barring a miracle don’t expect Amazon to pay for your new boat or pay your salary. It can be done, but there are 3.4 million reasons – and 12 reasons an hour – why you will be buried. The trick is to rise above the noise, which is as noble a writing goal as any.