Sunday, April 29, 2012

Self-Published vs. Traditional: Candid Tales from Frontline Authors

I’ve come across a number of intriguing blogs this week by traditionally published authors who, for varying reasons, turned to self-publishing. I’m not going go on about right or wrong on either side. I just want to share what I found, and I welcome your thoughts.

The first blog is from thriller author Boyd Morrison, who was under contract with a big six publisher. The first book in his series landed on bestseller lists, garnered decent sales, and good reviews. The second also received great reviews but sold fewer copies. His British publisher accepted the third manuscript, but his American publisher, Simon & Schuster, rejected the manuscript and demanded the advance back. Morrison tried to find an American publisher to pick up his series, however all refused, so he will be self-publishing the third book while his British publisher (who’s on board with his self-publishing plan) brings it out in other parts of the world. You can read more of his story at

Another interesting blog is from author Mark Terry, who compared his royalty statement from his traditional publisher with his self-published books. Terry reports that over a six month period, royalties on two of his traditionally published books came to a whopping $249.99. His agent took 15% of that, reducing his earnings to $212.49. He then had to give the federal and state governments a total of 28% in taxes, which left him $153 to pay his bills.

However, in March he received a royalty check, covering the month of January, for his self-published books. The check was for $1,013. He’s the first to admit that he’s not getting rich over this, but he’s convinced that cumulative books pays off for indie authors, but not so much for traditionally published authors. To read more of Terry’s blog, go to

A bestselling children’s author named G.P. Taylor turned away from traditional publishers because he can make three times the money self-publishing than through the traditional route. Taylor is already a multi-millionaire whose books have been made into movies. You can read more about his decision in the at

And last, but certainly not least, is a candid blog from author David Gaughram, who struggled with the decision to self-publish a year ago, and happily reported that this decision has been paying his rent since August. Just as importantly, he says that self-publishing improved his confidence as a writer after abandoning the often frustrating and demoralizing traditional slush pile route. He too quotes some of his sales figures, which you can see at

So, there you go, folks. I’m sure you see the pattern, but keep in mind, these are only four people. There are other success stories, and there are plenty of self-published authors who aren’t anywhere close to making a living. It’s all one big experiment, and I’d like to know how these four authors will be doing five years from now. Stay tuned!

DEADLY ACCUSATIONS, (now also out on Kindle)
THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, now available for iphones, iPads, and iPodTouch at Also available in paperback at and on Kindle at


Unknown said...

Thank you for this. I will go and read their individual stories because I am in the same boat . . . trying to decide whether to self-publish or try for a traditional publisher.

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Thanks, Gwynneth. I think you'll find their stories both enlightening and disheartening, as they've struggled to accept that the old ways of earning a living with publishing are no longer there. Happily, all seem to be happy to have chosen self-publishing.