Self-Publishing Is Dead, Long Live Self-Publishing

Self-Publishing Is Dead Long Live Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is dead and the gold rush is well and truly over.

For those who are closely connected to self-publishing, there is no doubt that the last couple of years have proven that the self-publishing bubble has well and truly burst, and that self-publishing is dead.

Well, not very well anyway.

Plummeting sales, along with increasing competition from free ebooks has made making a living from self-publishing increasingly difficult.

I have heard from a few authors that they have decided to throw in the towel.

While I can’t say, this is representative of all self-published authors, other indicators tell me that times are getting very tough.

One of these is the slowing of activity on Twitter by new and established authors. Twitter has, over the last few years been the social media platform of choice for self-published authors.

I have a number of Twitter accounts related to self-publishing and ebooks and all of them now have a long and ever-growing list of inactive users.

When I scan through these lists, a vast number are authors and small independent press. These accounts, which used to attract new followers in droves, are now dormant and signal to me that for some, self-publishing is dead.

As far as my own book and ebook sales are concerned, I can attest that from 2009 to 2012, my sales and earnings were fantastic. But from the beginning of 2103, sales started to decline.

I read a post by Mark Coker from Smashwords, which confirmed my observations. Here are a couple of quotes from his article.

We’ve moved from a world of artificial scarcity to organic abundance. Readers now enjoy a virtually unlimited selection of low-cost, high-quality works, and these books will become ever-more plentiful and ever-more higher-quality in the years ahead thanks to self-publishing.

….. it means that every year there will be more and more books for readers to choose from. Unless the number of readers and the number of books read by readers grows faster than the number of titles released and ever-present, there will be fewer eyeballs split across more books. This means the average number of book sales for each new release will decline over time …


Times are tough for self-publishing

While Mark tries to put a good spin on bad news in his post, because it is in the interest of Smashwords to continue to distribute thousands of ebooks, there is no doubt that times are tough, and can only get tougher.

Although he tries to be optimistic, at the end of the day, he is saying that it will become increasingly difficult to be a writer and make a return on your work.

If you’re relying on your earnings to put food on your family’s table, a career as an indie author feels all the more precarious.

But in digesting all of this, I am quite content and even confident. The gold rush is over and those who thought self-publishing was a gold mine and a rag to riches freeway will now gradually fade away.

Those who thought that giving away thousands of free ebooks was a route to success will have learned their lesson, and over the next few years, one can hope that sanity will return, and self-publishing once again becomes the province of the dedicated authors who understand what self-publishing really is.

Self-publishing is all about the artistic pursuit of writing and has nothing at all to do with becoming rich. This is how writing has always been and should be again.


Self-Publishing for the wrong reasons is rightfully dying, if not dead.

One can hope that in the near future, the right reasons to leverage self-publishing will enable a renewal and the establishment of a vibrant, and profitable, Indie publishing industry.

However, without major innovation, new ideas and new players in the online retail book and ebook market, I fear that self-publishing is dead.

Or at least as we have known it.


More reading: How To Publish A Book The Right Way To Reach More Readers


Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

9 thoughts on “Self-Publishing Is Dead, Long Live Self-Publishing

  • July 13, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    The problem is that many people jumped on the self-publishing bandwagon when they read stories of how some authors got rich from it. Many flooded the market with crap quality books. I do believe that when the crappy writers realise they are not going to get rich they will give up and it will all even out.

  • July 13, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    This reminds me of a four step diagram that Forrester (sp?) or one of their peers developed showing (and I paraphrase) a four stage life cycle: growing hysteria followed by pit of despair followed by slow recovery followed by the final stage of established part of landscape

  • October 24, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Is this meant to be click bait? It’s so wrong that it’s laughable. Obviously written by someone with an agenda who really has no clue about self-publishing. Just like regular publishing, many cannot earn a living off their book sales–but the beauty of self-publishing is that more people are doing exactly that, earning a very nice living.

    • October 24, 2017 at 7:42 pm

      Thank you for your comment, but it seems to me that you did not read, or understand the article.

      • October 24, 2017 at 7:55 pm

        No, I just disagreed with it, pretty much entirely. I also earn a comfortable full-time living off my self-published fiction.

        • October 24, 2017 at 8:01 pm

          Well, I’m very open to disagreement. Thanks for your contribution to the debate.

        • June 26, 2018 at 4:56 pm

          Good to hear! Thanks for some good news.

  • April 25, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Derek…….No… You sure brought me down now. Should I even get out of bed tomorrow?

  • December 13, 2014 at 4:20 am

    very interesting observation – Nice article
    Thank you for sharing


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