Self-publishing is not a guaranteed rag to riches business.
A report from Author Earnings confirms that self-published titles are gaining enormous traction in the book market, and in particular, e-book sales.
From humble and amateur beginnings only a few short years ago, Indie publishing has reduced the Big Five publishers to only 16% of the Amazon ebook market.
The data is only drawn from Amazon sales. With Amazon’s market dominance being so large, one can easily believe that it represents a trend across the whole publishing industry.
But does this mean you can write a book, get rich and say, “I’ll give up my day job?”
It might be easy to conclude that self-publishing, or Indie publishing as it is often called now, is turning into a goldmine for authors.
So should you give up your day job, write a book, and instantly become a rich Indie author? Well, no, yes and no.
Self-publishing isn’t easy to define
Self-publishing is not a singular definition.
There are so many facets to it. There are certainly some authors who work all day and write all night and make a decent side income from self-publishing.
But there are also those who have tried to make it a full-time career. But they failed to make more than a few dollars a month in their first year, so they gave up.
There are hobby authors who appreciate the opportunity to publish. But they are not dreaming of making a lot of money from their passion but do make a little money each month.
Some think that tapping out a few words and loading it up onto Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) will make them a killing.
Within this group are scammers, Internet marketers and dreamers. And without being unkind, also a few writers who have trouble even spelling the word, writer.
Yet they are a very real and important component of self-publishing. It is the freedom to publish that is at the very heart of this form of publishing.
At the top of the list are the professional self-publishers, who are a different breed of author to those I listed before.
They treat it as a business and invest heavily in book launches, promotion, advertising and media placement.
Some are authors who have been published traditionally in the past.
But they have grasped the opportunity to earn far more than was being offered by their agents and publishers. They use their established author brand to self-publish and self-promote their new titles.
Then there is the new grey area, which is small press.
These can range from well-established specialist traditional publishers to vanity publishers.
There are also self-published authors, who use their knowledge and experience of publishing a few books on KDP to help other authors to self-publish.
This is becoming more and more common. There are new authors who often have little or no computer knowledge. So they seek free or inexpensive help in getting their book published.
The report by Author Earnings paints a very rosy unit sales picture of self-publishing against traditional publishing. But it doesn’t offer any real information regarding vanity publishing.
As the Big Five all have vanity publishing wings now, are these books classed as self-published? There is also no breakdown of the sales data to know which segment of self-publishing is making the most inroads.
My guess would be that those who have publishing industry knowledge and acumen would stand the best chance of success. Self-publishing may be new, but publishing is not. The basics remain the same.
So by all means, take the opportunity to use self-publishing to express yourself. Get that manuscript that has been gathering dust for years out into the marketplace, and when you have finished, write another book.
But, give up your day job?
No. Not if you only plan to open a Twitter account, a Facebook Page and then believe that your book will sell like hotcakes, without a cent of investment.
Self-publishing is now a very big business with a huge potential market. Don’t get too carried away by the suffix in front of the word publishing.
Self-publishing is still publishing and that has always been a tough business, even when you know what you’re doing. Just ask the Big Five publishers.
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
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