Half of Self Published authors earned less than $500 in 2011


https://i2.wp.com/blog.ourchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/will-write-for-food.jpgE-book sales are going through the roof. Monthly and yearly figures show an increase in purchasing electronically.

In 2011 in the UK, E-Book sales rose 54%, that in itself a 300% increase in 4 years (My blog post about it)


We are all aware of the Amanda Hocking’s and EL James’ who have made millions from self publishing books. Then secured traditional publishing contracts, but what about the normal guy?

A survey was recently completed, interviewing 1007 self published authors, asking them how to comment on things such as their sales for 2011, the feelings about the industry and future publishing habits.

The results are very interesting…


Average earnings

The average earnings for a self published author was $10,000.

Now, that might sound reasonable, compared to a typical 1st advance for a new author, however when we take out the big earners (Hocking et al), who cream off 75% of the revenue, that is leaving a lot less of the pie for the rest.

With the top 10% taking $7500, out of every $10,000, the survey found that more than half of the self published authors surveyed were earning $500 or less.

Should we be surprised at this? Is there a reason for the low figures?


Interesting points

Some interesting statistics were pulled form the data.

Assuming the benchmark average is $10,000, romance authors are averaging 170% income, compared to only 32% for fantasy writers and only 20% for literary fiction.

Educated women tend to come out on top. Of those who are able to exclusively live of their income, 68% are female and 33% have a degree education.


A polished product sells better

Writers who employ the services of an editor will generally have higher sales by 13%.

But more interestingly those that have help with cover design gain a 34% increase.

While the above figure’s wont necessarily surprise many, it just goes to show that when people say they “Can’t afford an editor or a designer”, there is now proof to say that they can’t afford not to!

And it stands to reason, if the cover is intriguing then people are more likely to click to read the blurb, and in turn if the blurb reads well they are more likely to sell a book.



More than half surveyed plan to release more titles this year than they did last year, and 24% have 5 or more publications lined up to be published in 2012.

Assuming the quality does not suffer, the more books out there, means more people talking about you, more interest and in turn more book sales.



Only 5% felt they had been unsuccessful.

Now this is not a surprise. Authors are very insecure,. They do not believe that what pours out of their head is any good and are surprised when people choose to buy it.

For some, $500 worth of sales in a year, means a couple of hundred people thought their book sounded good enough to part with their hard earned cash.

One of the surveyors said

“Someone asked me if I thought this might deter authors from self-publishing, but actors don’t stop heading for Hollywood despite the odds against them,”

And that is the moral of the tale for me.

Yes we all want to have the sales numbers of E.L. James, or Amanda Hocking, but then we all want to have George Clooney’s looks, and Einstein’s brain, but that’s just not possible.

For some of us, it takes a lot of hard work. If we put in the hard work, some of us will get there.


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