DBW’s Wide-Ranging Interview with Data Guy

DBW’s Wide-Ranging Interview with Data GuyWho exactly is Data Guy?

We know he’s the numbers wizard behind Author Earnings—a collaboration between himself and self-published mega-author Hugh Howey. And we know that he’s anonymous. But that’s pretty much it.

In the past two years, Data Guy’s Author Earnings reports have become an increasingly popular resource for authors, shedding light on aspects of the publishing industry that were going previously unreported.

But the reports have also spurred a great deal of controversy. While some within the industry think they are vital tools for authors everywhere, there are others who criticize the data and think the conclusions resulting from them are worthless. There are of course many in the middle who believe the reports are admittedly far from perfect, but necessary nonetheless.

And yet we know little about the man principally responsible for crafting these reports and birthing this discussion in the first place. Why did he start this venture? What are his methods? And why does he choose to remain anonymous?

To find out the answers to some of these questions, I spoke with Data Guy in a wide-ranging interview. Below, we discuss the genesis of the Author Earnings project, how self-publishing is affecting traditional publishing, the criticism that he and his project receive, and more.

At this year’s Digital Book World Conference, Data Guy will sit down with Michael Cader, the founder of Publisher’s Lunch, for a discussion titled “Outside the Data Box: Taking a Fresh Look at Ebook Sales, the Indie-Publishing Market, and a Fast-Changing Publishing Business.”

Much more.

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A Vision for Making Ebooks More Engaging (Joe Wikert)
I’m convinced we’re still in the very early stages of ebook evolution. The current print-under-glass model works great for some books, but long-form digital content has so much more potential. The market will ultimately move beyond the only option readers have today of consuming dumb content on smart devices. Content enrichment is one way forward, but neither authors nor publishers have an appetite for the effort required to add video and other web elements to their books.

Anger, Antitrust and Amazon (Pacific Standard)
Perhaps the most powerful argument raised concerned price discrimination. Khan explained that giant firms like Amazon are able to collect data on customer preferences and patterns, and could use that information to determine the highest price each customer is willing to pay. As a result, buyers who shop online are increasingly losing a sense of what constitutes a “fair” price.

Startup of the Week: Orson & Co (Futurebook)
Frustrated with ebooks’ failure to live up to their early promise, the team behind Orson & Co believe they’ve created “the literary equivalent of the hoverboards that everyone expected the future to bring.”

Pinterest for Authors: A Beginner’s Guide (Jane Friedman)
Every few months another social platform emerges and I can almost hear a collective groan: “ANOTHER platform? Really?” Finding the balance between actual writing and all the online promotion is a real struggle for writers. Lately I’ve heard many voices saying that writers need to be on Pinterest. With all the platforms to choose from, is Pinterest really an effective platform for writers?

Eleven Wants to Bring Back Adverts in Books (Digital Reader)
A new startup is currently developing a new platform where users will be able to read for free in exchange for viewing adverts. Dubbed Eleven, the service will be launching into beta later this year, starting with Android. It’s going to feature ads inserted at chapter breaks, and will use the funds to pay authors.

A New Gateway to Publishing in Africa and the Middle East (Pub Perspectives)
The Casablanca Book Fair hosted its first rights hub, which brought together passionate publishers and agents for discussions of Arabic, African and francophone literature.

Author Launches New Award to Support Fiction from Small Publishers (Guardian)
The award-winning novelist Neil Griffiths is launching a new literary prize celebrating the “small presses producing brilliant and brave literary fiction” in the UK and Ireland—and is preparing to “guilt trip” some of the country’s bestselling writers into supporting it.


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