Author Survey Weighs Risks, Rewards of Writing

Dana Beth WeinbergIn almost every war, the factions all imagine that God sides with each one of them. Last summer, as a war of words raged over e-book pricing, Hachette and Amazon each cited reasons why authors should stand with their business model and against the other’s. What’s an author to do?

This week sees the annual release of the Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey, marking the opening of the Digital Book World Conference in New York City. The media debate raised when Hachette and Amazon locked horns in 2014 led the survey creators to take up the related questions of risks and rewards to uncover what authors earn, and how different publishing models benefit them. Sociologist and self-published crime novelist Dana Beth Weinberg created the survey and analyzed the results for CCC’s Chris Kenneally.

“This is an industry that is really built on people’s hopes and dreams. Authors write books for all different kinds of reasons. In the past, we were seeing that more of the authors were talking about building their careers and telling their stories. Those were the key things that they were interested in, and fulfilling a lifelong ambition by publishing a book,” Weinberg notes. “This year, what we saw was that more of the authors were very interested in making money, and this was also one of the top priorities. People this year expressed a more career-focused kind of perspective. They were interested in publishing books and building a reputation, and of course in making money.”

Dana Beth Weinberg received her doctorate from Harvard University and is Professor of Sociology at Queens College – CUNY, where she directs the MA Program in Data Analytics and Applied Social Research. Her research focuses on organizational behavior, work, and occupations. She also writes crime thrillers as D. B. Shuster.


  1. Digital Book World and Writer's Digest Share Data on How Authors Publish | Digital Book World - January 16, 2015

    […] Digital Book World will take a close look at the survey data and explore insights from the report in a series of blog posts during the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, The Author-Publisher Relationship in a Changing Market is available here for purchase, and you can hear Weinberg discuss the project on Copyright Clearance Center’s Beyond the Book podcast here. […]

  2. Barnes & Noble Spins off College Division | Digital Book World - February 27, 2015

    […] How Do Authors Get Paid? (Metro) Canadian authors have pushed back against a proposal that would let the Toronto public library system buy used books from patrons, arguing it would undercut authors and publishers. Metro assesses that claim based on how authors typically earn income today. Similarly, Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest arrived at a useful model for evaluating the relative risks, investments and rewards that govern the publishing process and authors’ decisions in the digital age. Related: Author and Researcher Dana Beth Weinberg on Key Findings—Free Podcast […]

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