In the last few years, self publishing on Amazon has seen tremendous growth, with more independent (aka “indie” authors) grabbing market share from the Big 5 publishers. Both the Kindle and CreateSpace platforms, made available for self publishers by Amazon, offer a fast path to any thought leader looking to put a book into the marketplace.
As this chart from the site Author Earnings shows, the trend for publishing is on the rise for choosing the independent route vs. the old school path of securing a deal with a traditional publisher.
According to Author Earnings, “The Big 5 publishers are now providing less than a quarter of the dollars earned by creatives for their ebook sales. Indies are taking close to half.” This is indeed exciting news for both existing and aspiring indie authors. The trend shows no signs of slowing down in the next few years, either.
The report goes on to break down percentages of market share by type of publisher, average book price for indie bestsellers on Amazon, and the future of indie publishing. A few more stats from this report showcase how powerful self publishing is becoming in terms of gaining market share and generating sales for self published authors:
- 4 of Amazon’s overall Top 10 Best Selling ebooks were self-published indie titles
- 10 of Amazon’s overall Top 20 Best Selling ebooks were self-published indie titles
- 56 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 Best Selling ebooks — more than half — were self-published indie titles
- 20 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 Best Selling ebooks were indie titles priced between $2.99 and$5.99
With stats like these, and the trend predicted to rise, becoming a self published author today is almost a no brainer for any professional looking to increase credibility and visibility in the marketplace.
Yes, But What kind of Income Can a Self Publisher Expect?
Media sites love to run stories about big pay outs, no matter the category. Lottery-winning stories always attract readers. After all, who doesn’t like to fantasize about our own Big Pay Day?
It’s no different in the self publishing space. A handful of self published writers like Hugh Howey and Michael Bunker are making annual six-figure incomes from the sale of their books. Some indie authors have earned $1M or more from their self published titles. Like anything else, though, they are the exception and not the rule.
Still, self publishing is worth pursuing. Authors do make money, even if it’s just enough to support a daily latte habit for the year. And if you write a book with evergreen content vs. something trendy, sales can continue for years as new readers search for titles on their areas of interest.
Most authorities in the self publishing space agree that the average number of books indie authors sell a year is around 200. If their book is priced at the low end of $2.99, they earn 70% royalty per sale, putting $2.09 per book sold into their pocket.
200 x $2.09 = $418.60
Not exactly a living wage.
Numbers like these shouldn’t deter anyone from pursuing self publishing their book. Many professional writers are quick to tell you their livable income comes from sources beyond their book. One of the more popular business models around independent publishing involves setting up systems around the theme of your book. I will be writing in more detail about this specific business model in a future post.
What’s most important to recognize here is what writing and self publishing a high quality book can mean for you and your career in the long run: increased visibility, credibility, and authority in your area of expertise.
My Self Publishing Story
My first self published book is Personal Branding Secrets for Beginners. Since I first self published it in 2011, my business’s revenue has increased by 800%.
Through speaking opportunities and events, I’ve met individuals who wanted to hire me to help them with their book writing projects. I’ve since gone on to write blog posts, email campaigns, corporate communications, fundraising letters, and marketing copy for a variety of professionals. I’ve contributed original work to globally branded anthologies. I’ve worked with clients on developing their strategic business plans around writing and social marketing and communications. I’ve coached and mentored emerging authors and seen their dreams of becoming published come true.
In short: I’m convinced these doors for me and my business would not have opened had I not written and self published my own books first.
I don’t pay my rent with my self publishing royalties, but I certainly have been able to build a successful business around my books. So while royalties from self publishing may not be the main source of revenues for your business, the opportunities that come from writing and self publishing a book are very real — and can be tremendously rewarding.