has come out with a new Amazon earnings report, and the trends are eye-opening. As they say, it’ll be fascinating to see this go through a full year’s cycle — though at that point I’ll want to see multiple years, because I’m the kind of guy who actually likes charts and stuff. (Oh, and information is good too.)

Self- and independent publishing is getting really big, and I think AE is right: it’s no longer good to look at self-publishing as a last resort. I’m still in favor of small publishers, though, for multiple reasons (branding, editing, formatting, marketing — the less time an author has to spend on these, the more time he or she can spend writing!). As well, one should not discount large publishers, as they will eventually adapt. Or they’ll go bust on their own, but I suspect they’ll adapt at some point and realize the world has changed despite their efforts to the contrary.

One thing the report makes a big deal of — and rightly so — is the subject of DRM. (If you don’t know what that is, click on the link above and they’ll explain). I hate DRM. Tor finally got rid of it, and I remember a big hoopla over it; of course, the Baen Books fans in the audience, such as your friendly neighborhood editor, just yawned and said “Thirteen years behind, but nice to see you finally show up.” Baen is still my go-to source for good science fiction and fantasy. Almost everything else I buy is from self publishers, indie publishers, and small presses.

(However, since Baen Books isn’t part of the Big Five, as they’re only a major publisher when you just look at SF&F, they count as a medium publisher for this earnings report. It’s easy for me to forget it since I hardly ever read fiction that isn’t SF&F, so I thought I should mention it.)

The Big Five also have an additional handicap: corporate standards look for a particular book in order to maximize sales, but they are often only starting to get on the wave after it’s already cresting. Indies move faster and tend to be more in tune with their particular niche. Since Amazon is adding more and more virtual “shelves” (as the report puts it, and very well), it’s becoming easier to get visibility for niche books. The Big Five aren’t adapting to that yet.

So if you’re looking for a quick summary and my advice, here it is: don’t make a radical shift based on one report, but rather keep an eye on this. I suspect is going to matter a great deal to those of us looking to track the data, but that data is going to keep changing. The main thing I’d say is that if you’re looking for a place to sell your manuscript, look at a small or medium publisher or go full indie.

If you self-publish, though, remember to get an editor and be prepared to do a lot of research on how to format your book, how to create a personal brand, how to select cover art, and how to get your marketing together. None of these should be neglected. Fortunately, in the last several years, most people have come to realize that you can’t just slap an unedited, lightly-formatted book with a clip-art cover into CreateSpace and expect to get tons of money. Find a group on Facebook or Google Plus or Goodreads and ask questions.

Keep writing!